Skip to content

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Israeli Security, Regional Diplomacy, and International Law

Menu

Biden’s Israeli-Palestinian reset is premature

 
Filed under: Palestinians, U.S. Policy

Biden’s Israeli-Palestinian reset is premature
President Joe Biden, March 4, 2021. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

One wonders why this new US administration is so intent on coddling the Palestinians, without exacting the appropriate, necessary and obvious price for such coddling.

In recent official announcements, the US administration has detailed plans for a “reset” in Washington’s approach to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Such steps include restoring diplomatic channels of communication with the Palestinian Authority through reopening the Palestinian diplomatic office in the US and the independent US consulate in Jerusalem, which would return to being no longer part of the US embassy to Israel.

This reset also envisages restoring US financial assistance for Palestinian governmental services and for the UN’s Palestinian refugee relief agency UNRWA.

Following up on this, the US permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced in the UN Security Council on 25th March the administration’s intention to spend $15 million on humanitarian assistance through “support to the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Immediately following this, the State Department and USAID notified Congress on March 26 of a plan to give the Palestinians $75m. for economic support, to be used in part to regain their “trust and goodwill.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price, in confirming this “reset,” expressed the administration’s belief that “American support for the Palestinian people, including financial support… is consistent with our values. It is consistent with our interests. Of course, it is consistent with the interests of the Palestinian people. It’s also consistent with the interests of our partner, Israel.”

It would appear that this “reset” will also include, in the coming days, the lifting of sanctions imposed by the previous administration on officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), following ICC activity relating to allegations against the US in Afghanistan and Palestinian allegations against Israel. This despite the administration’s stating open and serious criticism of the court.

This hasty “reset” of the administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, prior to any discussion and consideration of all aspects of the issue, raises serious questions as to the political, the diplomatic, and the legal wisdom of such a move.

When one presses a “reset” button, the assumption is that everything resets.

One cannot pick and choose what is to be reset and what is not, according to the political whim or preferences of whoever devised the reset plan, whoever happens to be pressing the reset button or whoever orders the reset.

There can be no genuine and bona fide reset of the administration’s approach to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process which ignores and leaves intact the continuing Palestinian incitement and antisemitism against Israel and the Jewish people.

There can be no genuine and bona fide reset if the Palestinian support and encouragement of the BDS campaign against Israel’s economic, cultural, and political integrity is allowed to continue and to develop.

There can certainly be no genuine and bona fide reset on the administration’s approach to Palestinian-Israeli peace process if the Palestinian leadership is allowed – and even encouraged to continue in its efforts to undermine that process – by undermining Israel’s legitimacy and that of its leadership, as well as through its cynical manipulation of the ICC with numerous allegations of war crimes.

In fact, the Palestinian leadership is openly continuing to poke a finger in the eye of the administration by its continued abuse and manipulation of the ICC by turning it into its own “back-yard” Israel-bashing tribunal.

To reset the US approach to the Israel-Palestinian peace process without requiring the Palestinian leadership to cease their “pay-for-slay” policy of paying salaries to terrorists and their families, is tantamount to closing a blind eye to such payments and ignoring valid US legislation.

To reset Washington’s approach to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process by reopening Palestinian diplomatic offices in the US and the American consulate in Jerusalem, as well as by restoring US financial assistance for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, and other programs for the Palestinians, without exacting the appropriate substantive quid pro quo from the Palestinian leadership, will not reset the peace process.

To the contrary, it will rather place that process into a mode of acute regression, by giving a green light and encouraging the Palestinians to continue their intransigence, their inflexibility and obstruction. It will send a signal to blatantly violate their commitments in the Oslo Accords.

Restoration of financial aid to the Palestinians without requiring them to cease their attempts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy, and without demanding that they cease their actions against Israel in the International Criminal Court, is misguided and ill-advised.

It signals to them that they can freely advance their policies of bypassing and undermining any possible chance to reengage with Israel in a meaningful and genuine negotiation process. This will mean they put through initiatives in the UN and other bodies aimed at prejudicing Israel’s international standing.

This ill-advised and misguided reset will be interpreted by the Palestinian leadership as support and encouragement by the US in their determination to continue undermining and attempting to nullify Israel’s Jewish historic and religious heritage and sacred sites.

One wonders why this new US administration is so intent on coddling the Palestinians, without exacting the appropriate, necessary, and obvious price for such coddling.

This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post on April 1, 2021.