US pullout from Afghanistan spells more support for Israel, says Biden official

“The end of America’s military involvement in Afghanistan frees up resources and attention and ultimately allows us to better support our partners like Israel,” said a senior Biden administration official.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan signals increased support for U.S. allies in the region, including Israel, a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a teleconference Tuesday, ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday.

“If anything, the end of America’s military involvement in Afghanistan frees up resources and attention and ultimately allows us to better support our partners like Israel,” said the official, who remains anonymous at the request of the White House.

The official said that during his meeting with Bennett, Biden plans to discuss the administration’s commitment to its partners in the Middle East, including Israel. “In the backdrop of what’s going on in Afghanistan, I think that’s quite important,” the official said.

“I’m often asked, ‘are we de-prioritizing the Middle East and our friends in the Middle East?’ And nothing could be further from the truth,” said the official.

According to the official, the Biden administration is not pursuing “unachievable goals” in the Middle East.

“We’re not trying to transform the Middle East. We’re not trying to overthrow regimes. We are pursuing a very steady course, centered on achievable aims; alignment of ends and means; and, first and foremost, support to our partners, and, of course, Israel being second to none,” said the unnamed official.

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Bennett is scheduled to meet with Biden on Thursday, a meeting the official described as “an important visit in terms of the relationship,” allowing the leaders to “sit face to face and really get to know each other.”

The official also said the meeting is “symbolic of our firm commitment to Israel as an ally.”

“The theme is the strategic partnership between the United States and Israel — ironclad, axiomatic, unbreakable, any word you want to use,” the official told reporters.

Contrary to the assertion of the senior administration official, some in Israel view the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as anything but reassuring.

Last week, former Israeli diplomat Arthur Lenk tweeted, “The USA is our closest ally. They have been there for Israel time & again over the years. But the horrific events in Afghanistan must be a hard, scary lesson about changing interests & cold, hard calculations. Dangerously, in 2021, self-reliance is more important than ever.”

On July 23, less than a month before the fall of Kabul, Biden spoke with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and “reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to continue supporting the Afghan security forces to defend themselves,” according to a White House readout.

Biden highlighted the “enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan,” during Ghani’s visit to the White House on June 25.

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“The partnership between Afghanistan and the United States is not ending. It’s going to be sustained. And, you know, our troops may be leaving, but support for Afghanistan is not ending, in terms of support and maintenance of their — helping maintain their military, as well as economic and political support,” Biden said.