Middle East Monitor / October 5, 2020
The major political concessions to Israel made by US President Donald Trump have influenced both the occupation state and the Palestinian Authority in terms of who each would prefer to see winning next month’s presidential election. A recent poll revealed the Israeli public’s preference for Trump, while the PA has taken the opposite stance. “If we are going to live another four years with President Trump, God help us, God help you and God help the whole world,” PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has told EU officials.
As is typical of the PA, the leadership is attempting to choose between overt and covert action, determining the former to be the worst possible scenario. There is no realisation, or at least no admission, that Israel can play both presidential possibilities to its advantage, because the PA has tethered itself to the waiting game designated by the international community.
Biden may not support annexation, which is one of the main contentions that the PA is currently playing upon. However, the normalisation bandwagon may open up a new chapter for US diplomacy with Israel, even if Biden decides to reverse some of Trump’s decisions, such as those excluding the PA and cutting financial aid. A new US president may retain the overtures made towards Israel, while giving the PA slivers of what it has lost over the past four years, thus ensuring an ongoing political imbalance even if the two-state paradigm is resuscitated and the US is once more in conformity with international parameters.
The PA is several steps behind the swift decisions of recent months, with annexation being shelved in favour of normalisation. While Ramallah is begging the international community for political support, several world leaders have affirmed that they are in favour of normalisation, which was constructed as a boost to kick-start the two-state diplomatic negotiations. The PA is dependent upon two-state politics, and the international community will not abandon its diplomacy despite it being obsolete. However, it is the international community that is holding the cards determining how such negotiations will continue and on what terms, which means that there will be no qualms about adopting strands of US foreign policy that are detrimental to the Palestinians, as the two-state compromise is, for example.
Briefly, the PA is rooting for Biden while knowing that there will be no political gain for Palestinians in terms of halting Israel’s colonial advance. The US is committed to Israel’s security, regardless of who sits in the White House, something that the PA doesn’t seem to understand. If Biden becomes president and revokes some of Trump’s decisions, the PA may feel that it has regained its diplomatic position in terms of US politics, but the candidates are two sides of the same coin. Trump or Biden doesn’t really matter; Palestine and its people will be betrayed because that is the default US position no matter who is in charge.
A Biden victory will not, therefore, translate into gains for the Palestinian people; it will just be a different sequence of loss. The choice between Trump and Biden will ultimately be a choice between one president and another, not a choice between different political policies and outcomes. This is especially the case given that Trump has laid the groundwork for rapprochement between the US and the international community in terms of working in unison against Palestine, while the furore over the “deal of the century” is forgotten in the jubilation over the Arab states’ disposition to normalise relations with Israel. Keeping this in mind, who is the PA constructing as an ally, when those it deems to be allies are allied with the US?
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