Thomas Friedman Warns Biden: Do Not Let Netanyahu Make You His Useful Idiot

One of the most significant geopolitical movements in recent years has been the normalization of relations between Israel and various Arab nations

by Faruk Imamovic
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Thomas Friedman Warns Biden: Do Not Let Netanyahu Make You His Useful Idiot
© Getty Images News/Mark Wilson

One of the most significant geopolitical movements in recent years has been the normalization of relations between Israel and various Arab nations. However, the recent push to establish ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia has caused more than a ripple in international waters.

Prominent New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, renowned for his astute analyses of Middle Eastern affairs, has put forward a scathing critique of this initiative. In his recent article, Friedman urged both US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman not to fall into what he described as a diplomatic trap set by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Do not let Netanyahu make you his useful idiots. You cannot have normalization with an Israeli government that is not normal. It will never be a stable U.S. ally or Saudi partner. And right now, Israel’s government is not normal," Friedman emphasized.

The Biden-Friedman Connection

What many international observers found intriguing is the longstanding relationship between President Biden and Friedman. The Israeli press has particularly highlighted that Biden often gives weight to Friedman’s viewpoints.

Historical instances show Biden utilizing Friedman's analyses as a sounding board, especially when addressing Israel-American relations. Friedman's plea was direct and unambiguous: “So, I want to appeal directly to President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS): Do not let Netanyahu make you his useful idiots." Further complicating matters, Friedman cautioned President Biden against succumbing to Netanyahu's "sweet talk".

Such talk would involve the U.S. greenlighting Netanyahu's judicial reforms while failing to secure any substantial concessions for the Palestinians.

The Stakes: Settlements vs. Normalization

The underlying issue for Friedman revolves around Israel's settlements in the West Bank.

He argues that any normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia should hinge on Israel committing to a freeze on all West Bank settlement construction. Such a move, Friedman believes, would force Israel into a defining decision.

"Thus, it would force Bibi’s government and the Israeli people to choose: Do you want annexation, or do you want normalization with the most important Muslim country — and the gateway to other big Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia?" Friedman posed.

The course of Israeli-Saudi relations will undoubtedly influence the broader geopolitical landscape. Whether or not the insights and warnings of Friedman will be heeded remains to be seen. The balance between achieving normalization and ensuring justice and stability in the region is indeed a delicate one.

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