Israel-Palestine: Joe Biden unwillingly pushed to engage in the conflict



“Diplomacy is back. The technique of the American arm on Israel’s shoulder has once again worked ”, comments Martin Indyk, former US special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. In other words, the line followed by Joe Biden – strong public support for Israel, firmness towards the Israeli prime minister behind the scenes – would have paid off.

“A real opportunity to move forward”

The American president tried to maintain a balance between the belligerents, in his brief intervention, Thursday, May 20, at the White House, after the announcement of the ceasefire. The United States will continue to provide military assistance to Israel, in particular to rebuild the missile defense shield, while providing humanitarian assistance for the reconstruction of Gaza.

Lhe Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in security and to enjoy the same level of freedom, prosperity and democracy ”, did he declare. My administration will continue our discreet and tireless diplomacy to move towards this goal. I am convinced that we have a real opportunity to move forward and I am committed to working in this direction ”.

U.S. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken to visit Middle East in coming days to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister and other Israeli, Palestinian and regional officials. These interviews will aim to “Working together to build a better future for Israelis and Palestinians”, indicates, without further clarification, the State Department.

Between maintaining the status quo and relaunching the peace process

It remains to be seen whether the commitment of the American administration will go beyond the minimum diplomatic service, between maintaining the status quo and relaunching the peace process. “The only way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state and to give the Palestinians the state to which they are entitled is the so-called two-state solution,” Antony Blinken said in January 2021. In Washington, most experts consider the task impossible with a very right-wing Israeli government opposed to any concessions, a discredited Palestinian Authority, and a Hamas movement classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

→ DEBATE. Israel-Palestine, is a two-state solution still possible?

Taken aback by the outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas, Joe Biden had to engage in spite of himself on an issue that was not in his priorities. The president, like Antony Blinken, is a strong supporter of Israel, but pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party could change his line.

Offset with base

For eleven days, the White House largely stuck to the traditional Democratic stance on Israel’s right to self-defense, blocking plans for UN Security Council ceasefire calls . But the dead-end conversation on Tuesday, May 18, on the tarmac at Detroit airport, between Joe Biden and Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, 44, the first woman of Palestinian descent elected to Congress, clearly illustrated the gap. between the president and some of the Democrats.

→ EXPLANATION. Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the reasons for the American disengagement

Visiting the Ford factory, after their brief meeting, the president congratulated this former lawyer, a member of the “Democratic Socialists of America”, for her attention to human rights. I admire your intellect, your passion and your concern for so many other people ”, did he declare. “You are a fighter “.

A new generation of elected American representatives from minorities defends the Palestinian cause in the name of respect for human rights and civil liberties. A report by the NGO Human Rights Watch, published in April, describing the Israeli-Palestinian status quo as a “Apartheid system”, a term taken up by Rashida Tlaib and her colleagues, has helped shape the American debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Israel must be held accountable for American aid”

Listening to his base, Joe Biden needs the Democratic left to pass his ambitious program of rebuilding infrastructure and supporting social protection. Donald Trump’s successor will not go back on the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem but he could open a consulate in East Jerusalem to re-establish direct contact with the Palestinian Authority.

Progressives would like it to go much further. ‘Now is the time to hold Israel to account for nearly $ 4 billion in US aid (3.28 billion euros) received annually, insisting that none of this be used to support occupation or settlement, and to condition American aid to respect by Israel of the civil and human rights of the Palestinians ”, writes the American novelist of Jewish origin Michael Chabon, in an open letter to Joe Biden, published in the daily The Washington Post.

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