Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s short list for her old job of Secretary of State starts with Vice President Joe Biden, according to Politico, citing a source close to the campaign, should she win the election in two weeks. Apparently, the campaign has not yet approached Biden with the proposal.
A six-term senator, Biden chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before joining the Obama Ticket, and is considered an expert on the Middle East and on eastern Europe. He has been used by President Obama as his envoy to both regions. It has been noted that Clinton and Biden do not often agree on policy, Clinton being more inclined to intervene militarily, while Biden advocates a more reserved policy.
Biden would probably be the best Democratic selection from the point of view of Israel, and especially the Netanyahu Administration. He has had a rough and tumble relationship with AIPAC on occasion, but in 2008 described his relationship with the pro-Israel lobby: “I’ve never disagreed with AIPAC on the objective. Whenever I’ve had disagreement with AIPAC it has always been a tactical disagreement, not a substantive disagreement.” Following that statement, an AIPAC spokesman praised Biden’s leadership and stated: “We look forward to continuing to work with him in the Senate or in the White House.”
Like the bulk of the Democratic party, Biden supports a two-state solution. In 2009, he told an AIPAC conference that Israel “has to work towards a two-state solution” and “dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement.” He also called on the Palestinians to “combat terror and incitement against Israel.”
However, in 2007 he stated, when asked about the failure to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority: “Israel’s a democracy and they make mistakes. But the notion that somehow if Israel just did the right thing, [the peace process] would work … give me a break.” He also stated that “The responsibility rests on those who will not acknowledge the right of Israel to exist, will not play fair, will not deal, will not renounce terror.”
The 2007 Biden-Brownback Resolution on Iraq, passed by the Senate with a 75-23 majority, including 26 Republicans, called for federalizing Iraq with separate regions for Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Iraq’s political leadership and the GW Bush Administration united in denouncing the resolution. In retrospect it appears that following it might have prevented the violent emergence of ISIS.
In 2008, Israel Army Radio cited an unnamed source that said Biden had told Israeli officials privately that Israel “will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran.” A Biden spokesman stated that “this is a lie peddled by partisan opponents of Senators Obama and Biden and we will not tolerate anyone questioning Senator Biden’s 35-year record of standing up for the security of Israel. … [Biden views a nuclear Iran as a] grave threat to Israel and the United States.” Israeli officials said at the time that the story was “dubious.”
Finally, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Biden called for “hard-headed diplomacy” with Iran. He also has called for the implementation of “coordinated international sanctions” on Iran, but called to ” complement this pressure by presenting a detailed, positive vision for U.S.-Iran relations if Iran does the right thing.” In that context, in 2007, Biden voted against declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, because “war with Iran is not just a bad option. It would be a disaster.”