Joe Biden’s ‘ironclad commitment’ to Palestinian un-freedom

Israel's siege on Gaza appears to be as open-ended as its occupation that began in June 1967 (Mohammed Zaanoun - ActiveStills)

Maureen Clare Murphy

The Electronic Intifada  /  June 15, 2022

The US president will be traveling to the Middle East next month to reinforce his country’s “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” the White House announced on Tuesday.

That phrase has become something of a mantra for Joe Biden’s administration, with his national security adviser Jake Sullivan recently stating that he “discussed ironclad support for Israel’s security” with Israel’s defense minister.

Sullivan made that proclamation to Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz in May just days after Israeli soldiers shot and killed legendary Al-Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, who was a US citizen.

The Biden administration has allowed the Israeli military to probe itself over Abu Akleh’s death rather than calling for an independent investigation or launching one of its own.

That is what “ironclad support for Israel” means in practice: an unyielding commitment to Israeli impunity and Palestinian un-freedom to the tune of at least $3.8 billion in military aid to Tel Aviv per year.

Washington’s ironclad commitment to Palestinian un-freedom was demonstrated this week when Michèle Taylor, the US representative to the UN Human Rights Council, delivered a statement “expressing deep concern” over a new permanent commission of inquiry into Israel’s system of repression against Palestinians as a whole.

That commission published its first report last week. It states that dismantling the Israeli occupation imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 “remains essential in ending the persistent cycle of violence.”

“The culture of impunity begets further human rights violations,” according to the report.

The “promotion of accountability” is a primary focus of the UN commission.

That directly contradicts Washington’s “ironclad support for Israel.”

Taylor trotted out well-worn accusations of bias against Israel at the Human Rights Council.

In addition to the US and Israel, 20 countries signed on to the statement, including Canada and the UK. Six EU states also signed: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands.

While claiming anti-Israel bias at the UN, the US has used its veto at the Security Council for decades to shield Tel Aviv from accountability.

And while the United Nations has imposed sanctions on other countries dozens of times, the world body has never once sanctioned Israel, despite its open violation of countless resolutions.

Accountability, it seems, is only to be meted out against Washington’s enemies.

The US complains that the new commission of inquiry is “open-ended.” But the probe is necessary because the occupation has become a permanent fact on the ground thanks in part to Washington serving as Israel’s lawyer at the UN.

The problem is not excessive scrutiny on Israel, but excessive impunity, as Francesca Albanese, an independent UN human rights expert, stated on Tuesday.

Albanese made her remarks during an event marking 15 years of Israel’s siege on Gaza, another form of repression imposed on Palestinians with no end in sight.

As Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights group in Gaza, points out, today’s severe blockade on Gaza is rooted in Israel declaring it a closed military zone when it occupied it in 1967. Tel Aviv incrementally tightened restrictions beginning in the 1990s during the Oslo peace process.

Israel exacerbated closure measures and restrictions on movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza and declared the territory an “enemy entity” in 2007 after the elected Hamas authorities assumed control over the Strip’s internal affairs.

In the decade and a half since them, Israel has killed more than 4,000 Palestinians, including 1,000 children, in four major military offensives in Gaza. An additional 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza were killed in other Israeli attacks during the same period.

More than 12,600 homes were destroyed and nearly 42,000 damaged in Gaza.

Some 130 agricultural workers have been killed as Israel has enforced a no-go area in the interior of Gaza’s boundary, which includes the territory’s most fertile land.

Seven fishers have been killed by Israel’s navy, which has injured and arrested hundreds more and confiscated nearly 250 fishing boats.

More than 72 medical patients seeking care unavailable in Gaza died after Israel denied or delayed issuing them permits to access treatment in Israel and the West Bank.

A decade ago, the UN warned that Gaza would be an “unlivable” place by the year 2020.

That is now the reality thanks to the support of the UN’s political wing, the EU and World Bank, which share Israel’s and Washington’s regime change goals in Gaza.

This is despite $5.7 billion in international aid being spent in Gaza “just to help keep an incredibly resilient population afloat, in impossible conditions,” according to the international charity Oxfam.

Oxfam International’s director, Gabriela Bucher, acknowledged that international aid without any pressure on Israel to end the siege turns funders “into being de facto enablers of an open-air prison.”

As Al-Mezan states, Israel’s siege is not about ensuring security. It is instead intended to “divide Palestinians and reengineer the demographics of the entire Palestinian population to assert its domination over them.”

The rights group adds that Israel’s “inhumane acts meet the definition of the crime against humanity of apartheid.”

The US and EU’s shameless rallying of support for Israel comes as a growing international consensus agrees with the apartheid analysis put forth by Palestinian groups like Al-Mezan for years.

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch, which stated last year that Israel perpetrates apartheid against Palestinians, described Gaza as “an open-air prison” where Israeli and Egyptian “movement restrictions wreak havoc on Palestinian lives.”

When the US affirms its “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” it means maintaining these policies of apartheid and persecution – whether it be under siege in Gaza or military dictatorship in the West Bank.

And it means that there is no crime too great that can stand in its way.

After visiting Israel, Biden will make his way to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with Muhammad Bin Salman, who the CIA says approved the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

During a presidential candidate debate ahead of his election, Biden said he would not sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia and instead “make them the pariah that they are.”

But once elected, the US continued to participate in the Saudi war and blockade on Yemen. And instead of sanctioning Bin Salman, Biden’s national security advisor courted the crown prince in an effort to normalize relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv – what the White House calls Israel’s “integration into the greater region.”

Undoubtedly, the US is just as ready to move on from the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh in order to bolster its hegemonic position in the region and that of apartheid Israel.

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada