It’s been a year since President Donald Trump and his pal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unveiled their “Deal of the Century” to a host of supporters and donors.
Their plan envisioned Israel, with an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, being sovereign over historic Palestine and fully controlling the vast network of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
The proposed peace plan was a sham, devised by Trump’s lieutenants to appease Israel and please its conservative evangelical base.
The “deal” was not an agreement at all, as it was not negotiated with the party concerned, the Palestinians.
Completely short-sighted, he also violated international law, broke with long-standing American policies and principles, and torpedoed whatever remained of Washington’s ability as a mediator.
But all of this was in line with Trump’s record of supporting Israel’s military occupation and legitimizing its illegal settlements while offending the Palestinians and delegitimizing their struggle for freedom.
In 2017, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and also closed the representative office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, DC the following year.
He also froze all assistance to UNRWA, the UN agency tasked with supporting millions of Palestinians living as refugees and resigned from the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the pretext of bias against Israel because of its policy in occupied Palestine.
Sadly, Congress has remained largely silent. And much of the world too, including the Arab world. Even though many have vehemently rejected Trump’s dealings and his move to Palestine, they might or might not do much or nothing to stop him for fear of retaliation.
Long before a vengeful Trump administration began noting the names of those who would not support its policies in Congress, like a tyrant, it “took names” from countries that did not support its Israeli policies in the past. UN.
The Trump administration has continued to cynically exploit the ambition or vulnerability of the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco to push them to normalize their relations with colonial Israel despite its continued assault on the Palestinians and against the will of their peoples.
The overthrow of the long-held conventional wisdom that a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for Arab normalization has exposed the utter weakness of Arab regimes and made any peace process redundant.
Why would Israel negotiate with the Palestinians if it could dictate its terms to them? why a compromise when belligerence is rewarded with more concessions?
The peace process was therefore declared dead. Again! After all, he was also pronounced dead after the failure of the Clinton summit at Camp David in 2000; after George W. Bush’s roadmap failed to revive it, and after the Obama administration all but gave up.
Sadly, at each obituary, violence erupted in frustration as Israel launched military campaigns, including two major offensives against Gaza. Whether it is acting out of revenge or to “mow the lawn” – that is, to cut Palestinians down to size – the Israeli aggression has led to chaos and the death of thousands of people.
And yet, there is no renouncing the spectacle; We must not abandon the diplomatic masquerade which, in fact, killed the two-state solution, by allowing Israel to deepen its military and civilian roots in the future Palestinian state.
The peace process is dead; long live the peace process.
Because it is now Biden’s turn to relaunch the peace procession.
His administration has vowed to correct some of the flaws in the Trump approach by improving relations with the PLO, reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem, and restoring financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) so that she can put the show back on the road.
This move is laudable and will surely be welcomed everywhere, except perhaps in Israel, where the Netanyahu-led government continues to embrace all that is Trump and oppose everything Biden stands for.
That is why it is high time that the US president avoided this corrupt Israeli prime minister, who has been charged with corruption, fraud and breach of trust. And who, like Trump, undermined the electoral process solely for personal gain and glory.
Netanyahu had essentially sided with Trump in the election and kept his joint photo with Trump on his official Twitter account, long after his mob attacked the Capitol.
Biden surely remembers how Netanyahu, crudely and against all protocol, incited Congress against the Obama administration on the Iran nuclear issue
The president must also respond to Netanyahu’s latest provocation to announce further settlement expansion on the eve of his inauguration, by denouncing Israeli settlements as illegal, as he has done in the past.
Lest he forget how Netanyahu personally humiliated him during his visit to Jerusalem in 2010 to relaunch the peace process, by announcing spectacular new plans to expand illegal settlements in East Jerusalem.
If, as might be expected, words don’t work, the United States must act to censor Netanyahu or his potential replacement after the March election.
If he is serious about restoring U.S. diplomatic credibility, Biden must be prepared to mobilize U.S. financial and military aid to Israel, which accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign military funding.
It is scandalous that Biden seems to think such a step would be “scandalous” when it is the only practical way to get Israel to end its occupation and save it from its worst demons.
Using such leverage does not undermine an alliance; this makes it possible to save it before it is too late. And that doesn’t just apply to US-Israel relations. Biden must use Washington’s influence with Saudi Arabia to end his war in Yemen, and use his influence with Egypt to end the vast human rights abuses there, etc.
Likewise, if Biden refuses to use Washington’s influence, Israel will continue to deepen its occupation and move further to the right, making any solution of any kind impossible without greater violence.
The Biden administration must drop the pretense that $ 40 billion in US military support to Israel guarantees its security and moderates its position when the record shows it is only safeguarding its occupation and hardening its posture.
To pursue the same damn policies over and over again for over half a century and hope for different results is indeed madness.
Truth be told, the Middle East region is in such turmoil, there may not be a geopolitical rationale or strategic interest for Biden to invest large political capital in Palestine.
But there is a moral imperative that can no longer be confused or ignored. One that is widely adopted by the Democratic Party and a larger part of American Jewish communities.
Washington’s unconditional support for Israel has cost Palestine dearly in terms of countless human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the form of an apartheid system, which is developed under Republicans and Democrats.
If the show is to continue, it must take a different, more confident approach based on fairness and common sense; one which, to begin with, recognizes the need for equal rights between the equal number of Jews and Palestinians now living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
If he’s really serious about peace rather than the process, Biden should make it clear to the Israelis and Palestinians before their next election, that the United States will join those who stand for freedom and justice for all, not for a few.