Middle East Monitor / Apil 30, 2020
US Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden will not reverse the Trump administration’s unilateral decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem if elected president. “The move shouldn’t have happened in the context as it did, it should happen in the context of a larger deal to help us achieve important concessions for peace in the process,” he has declared.
From one US president to another, the Palestinian people can only ascertain for themselves the varying degrees of ongoing international capitulation to Israeli demands. Biden might have wished for a different context, but still requires concessions by the Palestinian leadership to the detriment of the people.
Meanwhile, asserting that the embassy would remain in Jerusalem indicates that despite opposing US President Donald Trump’s actions in terms of context, Biden sees no obstacle for US foreign policy on Palestine in the decision.
Reopening the US consulate in occupied East Jerusalem “to engage the Palestinians” is the most that they can hope for in terms of diplomatic relations. This rhetoric ties in to the two-state compromise and diplomatic negotiations. According to advisor Tony Blinken, Biden would pursue the two-state diplomacy if elected, but only for Israel’s benefit. As reported in the Times of Israel, Blinken argued, “In many ways, pulling the plug on a two-state solution is pulling the plug, potentially, on an Israel that is not only secure but is Jewish an democratic – for the future. That’s not something any of us, who are ardent supporters of Israel, would like to see.”
If the US once again aligns itself with the two-state paradigm, the purported discord between Washington and the international community will be eliminated. However, a return to the defunct hypothesis does not include a reversal of the unilateral decisions which Trump has implemented. Israel’s gains will still be losses for the Palestinians regardless of who wins the presidential election.
Biden’s opposition to annexation must be analysed separately from his comments regarding the embassy relocation to Jerusalem. Disagreement does not equal a reversal of actions. Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the first step taken by the US in a series of political manoeuvres which paved the way for the current annexation plans. If Biden is stating that he will not consider reversing the embassy decision, he is signalling tacit approval for the momentum created by Trump to facilitate Israel’s colonial project in Palestine.
The international community has also played a treacherous game. In promoting two states as the only solution, it created an illusion of Trump being against the international consensus. However, the political disagreements will only be temporary. If the US elects a president who endorses the two-state paradigm, the international community will not refer to the unilateral US actions taken by the Trump administration, but rather focus on the US diplomatic engagement within international consensus post-Trump. There will be no effort to reclaim what Palestinians lost during Trump’s presidency, in much the same manner as the UN prefers to commemorate violations against the Palestinian people as opposed to upholding accountability and the right of return.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America