October 17, 2023 | Flash Brief

Biden to Visit Israel as Key Policy Questions Loom

October 17, 2023 | Flash Brief

Biden to Visit Israel as Key Policy Questions Loom

Latest Developments

President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on October 18 to show American support for the Jewish state as it deals with the aftermath of a brutal terrorist attack by Hamas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Biden’s visit in a public statement from Israel on October 16 while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducts a military operation against Hamas. The administration has deployed U.S. Marines and two Navy carrier strike groups to the Eastern Mediterranean and warned other state and non-state actors not to enter the conflict. Biden has said that Israel has the right to defend itself and strongly condemned Hamas.

Expert Analysis

“The Biden administration is attempting to prevent conflict from widening through the threat of military force. Whether the Islamic Republic of Iran can be deterred is an open question in light of American policies that signaled weakness in the past.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“If the president pledges unconditional support to Israeli military action against Iran’s terror infrastructure, establishes a credible military threat to deter Iranian escalation, vows to reimpose all sanctions on Iran to hold Tehran accountable for the massacre, and demands countries like Qatar and Turkey end all support for Hamas, this could be a historic visit. If he falls short on these elements, he could end up emboldening Iran even more. This is high-stakes foreign policy poker.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Biden’s Visit Coincides With Lapse of Missile Embargo

Biden’s visit to Israel comes on the same day as the expiration of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which prohibits Iranian development, testing, and proliferation of ballistic missiles. The lapse of the measure will likely embolden Tehran to export more weapons to its proxies.

Iran’s Financial Windfall

Biden’s expected visit follows Washington’s continued failure to fully enforce sanctions against Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports, allowing Tehran to export more oil during his administration than at any time since the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran’s revenue from its exports — as well as the Biden administration’s unfreezing of $10 billion in Iraq and $6 billion in South Korea in exchange for American hostages — has further enriched the regime. These developments may concern the Israelis.

Hamas Connections

Israel has indicated that its war against Hamas will be long and difficult and will require sustained U.S. support. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely expect Biden to resist Turkish and Qatari pressure to negotiate a ceasefire and hostage release with Hamas. In the recent terrorist attack, Hamas killed 30 Americans. At least 13 additional Americans remain unaccounted for and are likely being held hostage in Gaza.

Qatar hosts Hamas’ headquarters and is home to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Doha also provides a large portion of Hamas’ annual budget. Turkey provides Hamas with office space and hosts high-level Hamas operatives. When not in Qatar, Haniyeh lives in Turkey, and he and his son hold Turkish passports. Turkey’s banks also funnel money to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. In 2021, Israel accused senior Hamas officials based in Turkey — Hamas’ West Bank chief Saleh al-Arouri and senior Hamas member Zacharia Najib — of directing a terrorist attack in Israel.

Biden enriched Iran by more than $50 billion. Here’s how to turn off the spigot,” by Rep. Darrell Issa and Richard Goldberg

Expiration of UN Ban on Iran’s Missile Development Will Strengthen U.S. Adversaries,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S. Wrong to Involve Qatar and Turkey in Israeli Hostage Negotiations,” FDD Flash Brief 


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics