Pillar VI: Deliver Peace Through Strength and American Leadership
Pursue a Bold New Path to Peace and Prosperity in the Middle East
One of our Nation’s signature foreign policy achievements in the last few years was discarding failed, establishment thinking on the Middle East to achieve real, tangible progress toward peace. For decades prior, the “peace process” paradigm gave Palestinians de facto veto power over peace prospects for the region—to little avail.
This new approach to the Middle East relied on three premises: stand with our friends, stand up to our adversaries, and seek new ways to resolve longstanding challenges. In 2018, the U.S. demonstrated its unwavering support for Israel by implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the U.S. embassy there. It also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
At the same time, it rejected the deeply flawed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) and instead introduced the “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against Iran for its nuclear ambitions and its sponsorship of terrorism. In 2019, when an Iran-backed militia group killed an American contractor in Iraq, our government responded with the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—Qods Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qasem Soleimani.
This approach also paved the way for the historic achievement of the Abraham Accords agreement signed between the governments of Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. The agreement ensured normalization of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing channels for commercial and military cooperation between them that had not existed previously.
As with other policy areas, the current administration has reversed many of these Middle East policies. It has halted the “maximum pressure” campaign as it seeks to bring Iran into a new nuclear deal, avoided mention of the Abraham Accords, and reverted to the approach of prior administrations. It has also elevated the Palestinian National Authority (PA), restoring economic assistance to it and opening an “Office of Palestinian Affairs” at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, despite public opposition by the Israeli government to the opening of a Palestinian consulate in the city. After 17 months of snubbing America’s Gulf allies, the administration began seeking their assistance to address the domestic challenge of rising gas prices.
Nonetheless, America’s allies in the region are building on the Abraham Accords and the bold foundation that was established a few years ago. This includes hosting the first joint military naval exercise between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain, and an unprecedented free trade agreement between Israel and the UAE. Although our allies have demonstrated their ability to work together, they will need strong leadership from the U.S. to face emboldened adversaries and to continue building towards a safe and prosperous future. It also means pursuing a bold approach to upholding truth and standing up for friends at home by addressing the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) that is taking hold of campuses and corporations across America and by combatting false narratives and information advanced in Middle East studies curriculum.
- The Abraham Accords yielded the first joint military exercise between Israel and Gulf states, the first free trade agreement between Israel and the UAE, and other forms of unprecedented cooperation between Israel and its neighbors.
- In 2017, the PA paid terrorists and their families $350 million. All U.S. taxpayer dollars going to the PA were halted until it ceased paying families of terrorists.
- To date, 35 states have enacted some form of legislation to counter BDS.
THE AMERICA FIRST AGENDA
At the federal level, support policies that:
- Oppose elevation of the PA by reopening a U.S. Consulate for it in Jerusalem.
- Oppose provision of U.S. assistance to the PA until it ceases support for terrorism.
- Expand and build upon the Abraham Accords by deepening military and commercial ties.
- Oppose any effort to agree to a new nuclear deal with Iran that is worse than the JCPOA. Such a deal could include concessions that would lift all U.S. sanctions and remove of any terrorist designations.
- Restore the previous administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian government.
- Work to counter BDS efforts nationwide.
- Refrain from rejoining the United Nations Human Rights Council and restoring funds to United Nations Relief and Works Agency until those organizations institute a balanced and fair treatment of Israel.
- Push for greater integration of Israel into U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to include coordination with allies in the region in countering Iran’s malign influence and activities.
Biden is surrendering to Iran by John Ratcliffe, Jerusalem Post (May 2021).
Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, Trump White House Archives (Jan. 2020).
The Abraham Accords, 2017-2021 Archived Content, U.S. Department of State (Sept. 2020).
The Biden Administration’s Middle East Mess by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Kellogg and Jacob Olidort, America First Policy Institute (May 2021).
Will Biden Drop Effort to Revive Obama’s Nuclear Deal? by Fred Fleitz, Newsmax (June 2022).