As Trump’s presidency comes to an end, Sybil Cock assesses what Palestinians can expect from the incoming Biden administration
The short answer is no. Biden has been on record for years as a staunch supporter of Israel. In 1986 he told the Senate that Israel is ‘the best $3bn investment we make’ and nothing has got better. Kamala Harris was a star performer at AIPAC’s 2017 policy conference, and criticised Obama from the right over his (very feeble) stance on Israel.
They all, of course, support the ‘two-state solution’ envisaged by the Oslo accords in 1993 – so this does set them a little aside from Trump’s aggressive support for Israel.
To unpick this a little more, we need to look at the term ‘normalisation’ which is being used a great deal in the press right now.
I first encountered the word on visiting Palestine in 2011. Palestinians, rightly, objected to any initiatives that somehow make their brutal occupation seem normal to the world. One example given to us was of ‘interfaith’ trips across the Green Line (and the wall) to encourage children to know each other and somehow learn to be nice and peaceful without mentioning the occupation.
Others sometimes criticise charitable initiatives designed to alleviate suffering. I have even heard UNWRA (which provides for the needs of the 1.5 million Palestinian refugees) described as a way of ‘normalising’ the occupation. The Palestinian Authority of course is wholly complicit in normalisation, with its security cooperation (recently reinstated).
But the current discussion is about Arab states, whose populations have always been strongly pro-Palestinian, coming to deals that in effect recognise Israel, and with it their occupation.
We have seen the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan begin to extend diplomatic, and, crucially, commercial relations with Israel. In the eyes of the world, that means that Israel becomes a normal state: not a vicious and illegal occupier; not an apartheid state.
The big prize for Israel is of course Saudi Arabia, and last week it was reported that Netanyahu met with his fellow brutal leader, Mohammed bin Salman, together with Mike Pompeo to start this process. This is all under the cover of the dying days of Trump’s administration.
And we have seen the assassination of yet another Iranian nuclear scientist (likely by Israeli spooks agency, Mossad) bringing again to the fore the Iran nuclear deal, which Biden may resurrect.
The centrepiece of Trump’s foreign policy during his presidency has been his “deal of the century” for Israel, the US watchdog in the Middle East.
Biden is more of a traditional neocon and we should be alert to the foreign policy adventures he may embark on. He and his cabinet of warmongers have refused to relocate the US embassy, but they are likely to withdraw US support for the annexation of Palestine, and instead return to pushing Israel back to completely stale ‘negotiations’ for a two-state solution.
This is why Israel is escalating its destruction of Palestinian civil society before Trump’s out. Within a day of the US election a whole village in the Jordan Valley was destroyed, making 74 people homeless and demolishing 4 structures to make way for an illegal Israeli settlement. The number of approved settlements is the highest for 10 years. Gaza’s healthcare system is at the end of its rope.
Sunday saw the UN day of Solidarity with the people of Palestine, started in 1977, and a full week of action by Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK. The situation for Palestinians is unlikely to improve under Biden’s presidency, and our solidarity is of the utmost importance.
Join PSC here and get involved with their local groups and actions.
Sybil Cock – PSC East London and National Executive
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