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Biden’s administration is following the steps of previous administrations in dealing with the Palestinian cause. It has nothing new to offer the Palestinians, and it cannot reverse Trump’s actions, such as the closure of the US consulate in East Jerusalem and the PLO office in Washington.
Furthermore, the US continues to consider the PLO a terrorist organisation, according to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987. Ironically, the Oslo Accords were signed at the White House in the presence of Bill Clinton, the PLO’s Yasser Arafat, and Yitzhak Rabin – Israel’s Prime Minister at the time. Additionally, the PLO did not request the reversal of Congress’s decision to classify the PLO as a terrorist organisation before signing the accord. The US and Israel also signed the accord, despite considering the PLO a terrorist organisation! It seems evident that political opportunism heavily impacts the subject.
During his tour to the Middle East, international and regional tensions shape Joe Biden’s two primary concerns. The first of which is the affirmation of the United States’ strategic relations with Israel, ensuring its security and regional superiority. This is expected to be reflected in “The Jerusalem Declaration” at the end of Biden’s visit. The second concern is Israel’s integration into the Arab region. Biden will attend a summit in Saudi Arabia with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the six GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
The meeting is expected to result in the establishment of a defence alliance that aims to further integrate Israel into the region and send a warning message to Iran. Additionally, the meeting serves to reassure the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan that they are still essential to the American foreign agenda. Undoubtedly, tensions with Russia and China and the energy crisis are catalysts for America’s international, regional, political, economic and military moves.
The US President has nothing to offer the Palestinians within this challenging and complex context. His only option is to provide financial aid and scant improvements to Palestinian lives in cooperation with Israel. This will be accompanied by postponements and conditional political promises, as has been the case under previous administrations.
In other words, Biden provides the Palestinians with nothing, as did his predecessors Carter, Clinton and Obama. The Palestinian Authority will remain a self-governing authority with external representation. Accordingly, it will remain less than a State but more than an autonomous authority over the Palestinians. The Authority does not have sovereignty over its land, resources and airspace.
To the detriment of the Palestinians, the Palestinian president will only get to meet his American counterpart for an hour. The Palestinian Authority may not even engage in genuine political discussions. The consulate in Jerusalem is still a promise, and the same applies to the reopening of the PLO office in Washington. In contrast, following Biden’s visit, the Israeli government will announce a new plan to build new settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Biden’s visit is a visit to Israel. It is a net gain that indicates Israel can normalise its relations with the Arab world without involving the Palestinians or meeting any of their age-long demands. Israel succeeded by exploiting the Iranian threat to Arab regimes, particularly in the Gulf and the Arab East. Some cooperated with Israel in the realms of defence, economics and politics, in particular because the Israeli military is more advanced, especially where it concerns missiles and air defence systems.
The issue is that Palestinians are the weaker side of this equation. Their problems are exacerbated by the loss of control over the cards they held as a result of the Palestinian Authority’s weakness, the deterioration of its legitimacy and the absence of the Arabs’ agenda.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our writers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.