Ahead of Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East this week, Palestinian officials say that what he has in mind to address their concerns is no better than Trump’s policies against Palestine.
When the US President Joe Biden come to power last year in January, he promised with a strong rhetoric to treat Palestinians way differently from his predecessor, Donald Trump. According to his words, Palestinians are entitled to the same measure of “freedom, security and prosperity” enjoyed by Israelis. Therefore, Palestinians have every reason now to expect that the Democratic president pursue a different set of policies about them than Trump.
However, instead of addressing Palestine’s critical issues, Biden is to give some more Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza work permits and at best, grant them economic aids.
This is while as critics say, giving Palestinians permits to work inside their own land is an affirmation of Israel’s decades-long military occupation of Palestine. Biden’s financial aids will also give Israel zero incentive to end the occupation or grant Palestinians freedom, security and prosperity, and equal rights in general.
In this regard, a Palestinian official said under the condition of anonymity that Biden’s policies on Palestine have not been any different from those of Trump so far; “Money and assistance is very important, but what about a clear diplomatic stand?” the Palestinian official said, adding also that “unfortunately, as of now, there are no policy differences between the Biden and Trump administrations. This is not the way to move forward or to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.”
To rebuke Biden’s no-plan strategy in addressing and resolving Palestine’s more critical issues, Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American business consultant based in the West Bank also said that “economic measures do have the potential to positively contribute to making peace, but that would require Israel and the U.S. having a plan to end this 55-year-old military occupation. They don’t, so any so-called economic ‘confidence-building measures’ are merely occupation-entrenching measures.”
What do Palestinian officials really want?
Both Palestinian officials and people condemn the Biden administration that after more than a year, the government in Washington isn’t doing anything to deal with many issues that they regard as critical and way more important than work permits and temporary financial support. They want the Biden administration to re-open the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, something that the US president has refused to even talk about so far.
Palestinians also expect that the name of the Palestine Liberation Organization be immediately removed from the U.S. Congress’ list of terror organizations. In addition, they demand Washington to declare the 1967 borders as the basis for future negotiations with Israel. This issue is in fact very much pivotal for Palestinians both politically and geopolitically. Last but not least, Palestinian authorities and public want America to at least issue a strong statement and condemns Israel’s building new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.
But instead of doing any of the above-mentioned critical issues, the Biden administration has demanded that Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority, express support for normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
Washington believes that this could pave the way for fresh talks between Israeli and Palestinian authorities and finally get Palestine’s agreement for the two-state solution. Palestinians, however, hold the view that Israel must first commit to recognizing the 1967 borders before any further talks about anything, let alone recognizing Israel as a state.