Biden and the Palestinians in the past year: little action and persistence in supporting the occupation

Biden and the Palestinians in the past year: little action and persistence in supporting the occupation

When talking about the past year in US President Joe Biden´s policy towards the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is wise to start from the point at which the Biden administration ended 2022 with regard to the essence of this issue from its perspective. And that point is the end of the year coinciding with the ratification of the most right-wing, most extreme, reactionary, and excessively anti-Palestinian government in the history of Israel, led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was absent from the Prime Minister´s office for 19 months, but he was not absent from the site of influence in the Likud bases, and what This followed from the White House´s statement welcoming Netanyahu.

“The Israeli Knesset voted today to ratify a new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” says Biden´s statement released Thursday. “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges facing Israel and the Middle East region, including Threats from Iran.

The statement then limps to quote his traditional, honeyed words that “the United States is working to promote an increasingly integrated, prosperous, and secure region, with benefits for all of its citizens” without elaborating what is meant by that, to delve into murky waters in talking about his work “with partners to advance this vision.” Most hopeful for a peace zone, including between Israelis and Palestinians.

At the end, the statement resorts to its own automatic expressions by noting that "as we have done during my administration, the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and oppose policies that endanger its viability or run counter to our shared interests." and values."

In congratulating Netanyahu, the US President did not stop at (Netanyahu)´s statement Thursday that "the Jewish people have an exclusive and indisputable right to all areas of the Land of Israel. The government will work to strengthen and develop settlements throughout the Land." of Israel - in the Galilee, the Golan, Judea and Samaria (the occupied West Bank)." As a flagrant violation of the official position of the United States, which rejects this.

When reviewing the steps taken by the US President Biden´s administration towards the Palestinians in the past year, it should be noted that last November, the administration raised the level of its channel to work with the Palestinian Authority, by raising the level of its representative. In engagement with the Palestinians, as the White House informed Congress On November 22nd, he promoted Hadi Amr, formerly deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, to the newly created role in Washington, that of "special envoy for Palestinian affairs" at the US State Department. 

Amr, according to what the US State Department spokesperson said in response to questions from the Jerusalem correspondent at the time, will work closely with the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and diplomats in the Jerusalem-based Bureau of Palestinian Affairs.

And while this step comes amid the deterioration of conditions in the occupied West Bank for the Palestinians, as the year 2022 is already considered the bloodiest year for the Palestinians who are under occupation in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, and in besieged Gaza, in which the Israeli occupation forces killed 224 Palestinians, (53 of them in the besieged Gaza Strip), including dozens of children, and hundreds were injured, while the occupation authorities demolished more than 2,000 homes and buildings in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and dozens of homes and buildings in Gaza.

According to reports, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was initially reluctant to accept the idea of ​​a new US special representative role when it was proposed earlier this year, fearing that it would come at the expense of the Biden administration´s pledge to reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem. But he finally agreed under intense American pressure, and Washington used its financial support for the Palestinians as a pressure card.

The truth is that the promotion of Hadi Amr, and the naming of a special envoy for "Palestinian affairs" do come at the expense of reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem. The American logic in the matter of the consulate revolves around continuing to talk about a “commitment” to reopening it, and failing to do so under the pretext that Israel must agree to such a decision, which is difficult, especially in light of the political changes in Israel and the priorities of America´s commitment to Israel´s security and confrontation. Iran". Plus, the US consulate, which was closed by former President Donald Trump in April 2019, was not in East Jerusalem, but was and still is in West Jerusalem.

Secondly, when Trump decided to close the consulate, the decision abolished the location of the US consul, and the staff reported directly to the US ambassador at the embassy in Jerusalem, David Friedman, instead of his channel, which previously worked independently by reporting directly. to the US State Department in Washington. Now, according to US officials, the consulate staff is still working from the same building, and reports directly to officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the employees report directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Washington and does not follow the US ambassador to Israel, that is, they report directly to the responsible diplomat, Hadi. Amrou.

It is unlikely that the US administration will reopen the Jerusalem consulate, but it is fully aware of the symbolic momentum that the consulate meant for the Palestinians, and in the face of "international legitimacy" and will therefore keep saying that it is committed to reopening It is by President Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and his ambassador to Israel, Tom NAIDS, spokespeople.

Washington also does not seem interested in reopening the Palestine Liberation Organization mission office in Washington, which was closed by Trump on October 10, 2018. Washington says it has offered the Palestinians to open a “special interests office” affiliated with one of the Arabs. embassies in Washington to take care of the interests of the Palestinian Americans, media work and so on. Like, but the Palestinians refuse. Legalists also advise that reopening the PLO mission office, which served as an embassy in Washington, will open a flood of lawsuits worth billions of dollars to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority under fabricated accusations of the PLO´s involvement in terrorism, which will plunge the Palestinians into an endless quagmire of judicial mud.        

Of course, there was Biden´s visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank last summer (July 13-15), which the US president did not really need to do in order to tell the Israelis and Palestinians that the time was not right to resume the peace process, given that there were deep internal political divisions on both sides with Israel heading to its fifth elections in four years in November (which led to the selection of Netanyahu), and a widening political, social and economic gap between the Palestinian Authority administration in parts of the West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Add to this the growing tensions in occupied Jerusalem over the holy sites, and the continuation of Israeli violence, as we saw in its war on the besieged Gaza Strip last August, and the daily killing of Palestinians by the occupation authorities.  

But Biden has visited and, unlike his predecessors over the past four decades or more, has not come up with a specific plan for "resolving the conflict." His primary goal was to reassert US leadership with traditional allies in the Arab world, the extent to which he succeeded in this is still a matter of debate. But experts believe that while the bulk of the post-tour analysis has focused on the Saudi part of the visit, there are some points worth highlighting from the Israeli/Palestinian part that may be important to watch.

They say Biden has laid a small, but important foundation for "the potential re-engagement of the United States in efforts to resolve the conflict." In this regard, experts insist, Biden and his advisors diligently explored ways to improve US relations with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, renew the relationship and, where possible, assist the Palestinians in increasing areas such as the East Jerusalem hospital. network that can improve living conditions; and finally, leveraging congressional funding to revive a form of peacebuilding that can adapt to the current context. But even these "practical" steps will not come easily, and are unlikely to fundamentally change the political realities on the ground on their own.

Biden´s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem (and not in Ramallah) was a long-awaited re-run of US relations with the Palestinian leadership. Especially since this came after the collapse of relations and the cessation of all aid during the Trump administration. But for many, renewing aid without reversing Trump´s policies such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel´s capital, closing the US Consulate in Jerusalem, and supporting normalization amounts to a change in tone only.

For the Palestinians, Biden announced $316 million in aid on top of several measures approved by Israel apparently aimed at improving daily life in the West Bank. He also indicated his support for a two-state solution "along the 1967 lines," an important reference point that Trump and his allies on the Israeli right have sought to ignore.

Biden´s visit to East Jerusalem´s Augusta Victoria Hospital, along with the announced $100 million increase in US aid, was also significant and symbolic. More specifically, Palestinian-run hospitals in East Jerusalem, which serve as the main point of referral for specialized health care for the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank, have been teetering on the brink of collapse for a decade or more, as a result of underfunding and financial mismanagement. It is also among the only Palestinian institutions that are still allowed by the Israeli occupation authorities to operate in occupied East Jerusalem, since most of them were closed in the wake of the second intifada.

Perhaps Biden´s visit to a Palestinian institution in East Jerusalem, without an Israeli accompaniment, was also intended to send a message of support to the Palestinian residents of the city and beyond. This may be particularly important given recent tensions in occupied East Jerusalem over Palestinian property rights and the status quo governing the holy sites on the Haram al-Sharif. 

The United States did not appear more meager or hypocritical in the past year than it appeared in the aftermath of the assassination of Al-Jazeera correspondent in the occupied Palestinian territories, Sherine Abu Aqleh, on May 11, 2022, by an Israeli soldier´s bullet. While many were optimistic that the United States would move in a different way this time from similar previous cases, given that Sherine was a woman, a well-known Christian journalist, and above all an American, we soon saw a reversal in the position of the American administration, which strongly demanded a transparent investigation and accountability for the killer in its statement on May 11, 2022. In a statement issued by the administration on July 4, 2022, it justifies a position complicit with the occupation authorities, saying that "  

And when the FBI announced on Monday, November 14, the opening of a criminal investigation into the murder of the Palestinian-American journalist, Sherine Abu Aqleh, the decision was considered a qualitative shift in the history of the relationship between the United States and Israel , and a possible change in the record of the position of successful US administrations, which Israel has traditionally unleashed excessive force against the Palestinians under the pretext of the right of self-defence.

While the FBI´s decision may remain a symbolic gesture, without producing results that condemn and lead to the punishment of the Israeli soldier who killed Shirin on May 11, the decision itself is a watershed in the intensity of the unprecedented pressure campaign practiced by prominent Democratic lawmakers. . From the US Congress, with its two parts, to the administration of US President Joe Biden, so that the administration takes concrete steps to hold Israel accountable, as the step that was announced less than two weeks after the Israeli elections that returned Benjamin Netanyahu to The Israeli premiership is a clear example and a harbinger of things to come with regard to the relationship of the Democratic Party with Israel. 

Targeting Palestinians holding American citizenship is not new, as the Palestinian-American Omar Asaad (78 years old) died on January 12, 2022, after the Israeli occupation authorities falsely and falsely arrested him on his way home from a cafe not a mile from his home and threw him on the ground, handcuffed, and left him shivering in the cold. For long hours, until he breathed his last, and after the administration pledged, through the US State Department spokesman, in his response to the Jerusalem correspondent´s question, to launch a transparent investigation that would end with the perpetrators being held accountable, we found that Omar Happiest´s death had passed unnoticed. Another number in a jungle of numbers. This was not the first time that Israel had been killed, wounded, and assaulted by Americans, including whites and Jews. Unfortunately, it will not be the last, and Shirin´s example is the best proof. The indisputable fact is that the US-Israeli relations are fundamentally dysfunctional, so that the agent acts as if he is the client, the recipient of the donations treats him as if he is the owner of them, and the beggars for help give favors to the giver, and even deliberately exaggerate in insulting him. That´s a long story. This is not the place. it´s a long story. This is not the place. it´s a long story. This is not the place.

Also, the Biden administration fails its test regarding the right of Palestinian Americans to be treated exactly as all Americans are treated upon entering Ben Gurion Airport, which makes them lose confidence that the United States will come to their aid at his insistence, especially in light of the new Israeli laws.

Finally, if we put the performance of the Biden administration towards the Palestinians in balance, we find that all matters are in place to a large extent, and we find that the priority of the Biden administration in the region is to confront Iran and the Iranian nuclear file (which has apparently been waived), and to expand normalization between the countries of the region and Israel, the flow of oil and containment of China, confronting Russia and appeasing Israel at all costs. On the other hand, if we wanted to detail the Israeli transgressions against the United States, it would take many volumes, from spying on it, to leaking military technology to its opponents, specifically China, and from blackmailing it, to tampering with its internal political equations, and from ignoring its national interests, to aggression on its citizens, humiliation, abuse, harm and killing. All of this is happening while Washington stands complicit with an aggressive occupying country that cannot continue without its support at all levels: diplomatically, economically, and militarily.