Middle East Monitor / August 8, 2020
US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has ordered the removal of any reference to the Israeli occupation in his campaign programme just days before it was released on 15 July, Foreign Policy revealed on Thursday.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who withdrew his presidential campaign in favour of Biden, had agreed with Biden that he would include in the Democratic Party platform an assertion that Palestinians had a right to live free of foreign “occupation”, referring to Israel.
However, under pressure from pro-Israeli advocacy groups, Biden made a last-minute decision to remove any reference to the Israeli occupation, Foreign Policy reported three sources confirming.
Therefore, Biden aides asked the progressive leaders in the Democratic Party and urged them to drop their demand to declare Israel an occupying power, the magazine reported.
According to the magazine, Biden aides argued that the inclusion of the word “occupation” threatened to undermine unity within the Democratic Party.
“The question of whether to allow the text to refer to ‘occupation’ or use the phrase ‘end the occupation’ was taken to the vice president and he said ‘no’,” Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer at the American Jewish Committee, told Foreign Policy.
“This is not an issue on which the party can bend because it would be contrary to the position of Joe Biden,” Isaacson added.
Foreign Policy noted that the retraction reflected Biden’s reluctance to reverse decades of staunch support for Israel.
It also stated that this retreat marked something of a victory for the party’s establishment, which has sought to preserve close relations with Israel, even as its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moved increasingly close to the Republican Party and its standard-bearer, President Donald Trump.
“The party platform section on Israel and Palestine is a clear victory for those supporting a return to mainstream Democratic policies of the past and a loss for the progressives seeking more restrictive or conditional support for Israel,” Peter Mulrean, who served for three decades in the State Department and subsequently oversaw United Nations aid programmes for Palestinians, informed the magazine.