Biden Admin Juan Cole

How Biden Enabled Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have already shown their cards when it comes to Israel no matter what they pay lip service to now.

By Juan Cole / Informed Comment

The post of U.S. ambassador to Israel is still vacant, but the charge d’affaires, Jonathan Shrier, sent over some objections to caretaker Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last month complaining about the Israeli construction of squatter settlements on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. The “Green Line” that separates Israel within 1948 borders from the Occupied Palestinian territories Israel illegally grabbed by military conquest in 1967 runs through Jerusalem. The Netanyahu government approved 450 housing units in the Har Homa district in the east of the city, and the Biden administration objected that Israel should not be building beyond the Green Zone.

The planting of more and more squatter settlements on land owned by Palestinian families is among the actions that produced massive unrest in Jerusalem last Friday and Saturday. In particular, the Israeli plan to make dozens of families homeless in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has raised tensions to a fever pitch. The Israeli government pretends not to recognize the property titles of many families there, and prevents them from making additions to their homes. When they do so anyway, the Israelis schedule them for demolition. This behavior is among the reasons that Human Rights Watch has just branded Israel an Apartheid state.

There were further Palestinian protests Sunday night in Jerusalem, as far right wing groups (the Israeli equivalent of Q-Anon) planned to parade through Palestinian neighborhoods waving Israeli flags, just to make it clear who is in control of people’s lives there. Palestinians are not allowed to protest, and the Israeli commandos come in to break heads and throw stun grenades. For a Palestinian to wave a Palestine flag is a crime that could result in long years in jail. That is what the US press calls “clashes” or “skirmishes,” managing to avoid naming Israeli repression.

The Biden administration has revived the old, phony, language about a “two-state” solution. Since Israel is unimpeded in building throughout the West Bank, 60% of which is under direct Israeli military occupation and 40% of which is under indirect Israeli military occupation, no two-state solution has been plausible for at least a decade and maybe more. Speaking of two states that can never materialize is just a way of, in Mitt Romney’s words, “kicking the can down the road.”

So the new construction in Palestinian East Jerusalem was denounced by Washington. But the denunciation is toothless.

Netanyahu knows that it is toothless, and engaged in one of his favorite sports, owning the Libs in Washington. Jerusalem, he said, “is not a settlement,” it is the capital of Israel.

The Biden administration says that the ultimate disposition of East Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. So Washington disagrees, at the moment, with Netanyahu.

But President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken don’t have a leg to stand on in rejecting, Netanyahu’s position, since they decided to ratify the decision of the odious Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Only a handful of countries has agreed to recognize undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a recognition that forestalls final status negotiations. Trump symbolically acquiesced in Netanyahu’s claims. Biden let the symbolism stand.

Although Israelis often attempt to use the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan as a charter of legitimacy, it isn’t. It was never ratified by the UN executive branch, which is the Security Council, and so has no force of law. Moreover, Israeli leaders such as Ben Gurion only paid lip service to it, ignoring it when they could seize further territory by main force.

But even that very pro-Zionist 1947 plan did not award Jerusalem to Israel. The city, given its importance to Jews, Christians and Muslims, was to be under an international regime. But in the 1948 War, Israel captured the west of the city, while Jordanian troops held the east. In 1967, even though Palestinian played no appreciable role in the Six Day War, Israel overran East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The General Assembly had not awarded those to Israel because there were virtually no Jews there.

The Israelis annexed East Jerusalem and other Palestinian West Bank territory, which is an egregious violation of the United Nations charter, which forbids the acquisition of territory by military force. Israel is a signatory. Then the Israeli government began flooding Israeli squatters onto Palestinian land in East Jerusalem. This transfer of population from the Occupying power to militarily occupied territory is a severe violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of occupied populations. The Fourth Geneva Convention was aimed at preventing a repeat of Axis war crimes, as with the attempt of the Nazis to settle occupied Poland with ethnic Germans and to ethnically cleanse Poles from their own country to make way for Germanization.

Today, 370,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, and the Israelis have managed to plant over 200,000 Israelis in squatter settlements on land owned by Palestinians. The goal of the Israeli Right is to evict the Palestinians slowly and gradually (so as to avoid a backlash from the rest of the world) and to replace them with Israeli settlers, so as to create a monochrome Israeli Jerusalem. Currently, the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are being turned into cantons surrounded by Israeli squatter settlements and sometimes cut off from other Palestinians, and they are all heavily surveiled and patrolled by Israeli security forces.

The 5 million Occupied Palestinians in the West Bank view East Jerusalem as their future capital, and Netanyahu’s purpose in life is to prevent that scenario from ever occurring.

The Biden administration gives lip service to a negotiated settlement and a two state solution. But Washington has done nothing at all to prevent the gradual colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by the Israelis over the past for the past 54 years, and so will just go only sending over memos. Sending the memos from Jerusalem is a way of telegraphing that they are not serious.


  1. The average American’s continued ignorance of the details surrounding mass atrocities committed by the Israeli government in the name of “security,” will inevitably lead to similar crimes manifesting themselves within the United States at the direction of the state.

  2. Excellent report. I notice the New York Times always call Gazans responding to Israeli bombs as “militants,” and refers to Al-Aqsa Mosque as “Aqsa compound” and as “Temple Mount” for the Jews. The bias of mainstream media is crassly apparent. The IDF are “defenders” instead of the terrorist organization it always has been. Hamas is always terrorists or militants even though they were democratically elected. When speaking of killed people, one Jewish woman is more important than the thousands of Palestinians who have perished at the hands of every leader Israel has ever had. Biden will be no help w.hatsoever, being as biased as all previous U.S. presidents. He continues to get undeserved praise, only god or the devil knows why.
    Why aren’t peacekeepers from the UN in place in Israel? Why are “democratic” countries not outraged by Israel? Why are they not all sending troops there to protect the Palestinians? Why does no one declare war on Israel? Why is life for the abused so miserably unfair?

    1. Good observations. Cancelled my NYTimes subscription today and wrote a letter to the editor criticizing NYT’s propaganda on the apartheid state of Israel and the genocide. I can’t bear the lies anymore and I certainly don’t like paying for them. Nor will I miss the ‘there’s a log in my eye, but that speck in yours is worth going to war over attitude on China, Iran, Russia, Cuba etc… I feel we don’t have newspapers, we don’t have journalism anymore – even those who used to investigate and report have resorted to calling out other reporters instead of reporting. It’s difficult to find actual news and information. I resort to reading history most of the time. Let me tell you, that sheds some light and things are not looking good.

      1. Good for you, Rita. I gave up on the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, the London Times and others a long time ago. Even the New Yorker, famous for its fact-checking, went the route of Russiagate and Syrian “chemical attacks,” which Assad never did (proven all three times). I will recommend to you: Grayzone founded by Max Blumenthal who is the very best of reporters. If you put in an alert for his name, you will get in depth journalism. I have a list of reporters I trust. You can trust ConsortiumNews, too, and electronic intifada, and CounterPunch, and MintPress, and the ever great Sy Hersh. Rob

  3. My comment is not really offering anything to the issue, but with such international politics on the US part, there is little hope for anything good in the future. I had foreseen about 15 years ago that we all were moving towards uniquely violent dictatorial governments worldwide. Now the monstrous picture I see makes me wonder what to expect further. Number one of course now are the Palestinians and what is happening there. However, right next to it, how can we survive such violent decisions? What kind of life are we viewing ahead based on so much evil. Chris Hedges recently brought up ancient Greek tragedy that makes one thing clear. Good things never derive from bad inhumane decisions. Even if it looks good for a while, the very demise grows from within the original evil deed, the original evil decision to exterminate in order to have. I am so devastated seeing the world crumbling under the extreme right – because that is what it is.

  4. It is crucial to recognize that Netanyahu and his allies have no regard for international Jewry except insofar as they could win Jewish support around the world. Yet many American Jews, for example, still identify with Israel and in the process condone the unspeakable immorality of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. I would not expect any ethical initiative from the Biden administration.

  5. Biden is as out to lunch as Trump, and by the way every other American president who has provided Israel with cover, weapons (to the tune of $3 billion a year), unquestioning support up to and including war crimes, murders of children, imprisonment of children, endless checkpoints, rationing of food, electricity, medicine (covid vaccines), land theft, destruction of farms, homes, orchards! That sounds like war crimes, crimes against humanity to me! Yes, America and let’s not forget the Israeli attack on your very own USS Liberty which killed 34 US sailors and wounded 171 with friends like this who needs enemies! Thank you, Juan love you for your courage and calling out American hypocrisy, lies, and general bullshit!

  6. A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the rights of both Palestinians and Jews there.
    Israel has long proven that any one-state solution involving them is a fascist solution.
    The alternative is a one-state solution that does not include the Israelis.
    Which is certainly justified by their conduct, both there and in the US.

    1. “The alternative is a one-state solution that does not include the Israelis”. Another nostalgic of the “final solution to the Jewish problem”? Because I assume you mean the Israeli Jews not the Israeli Arabs….

  7. “The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the United States passed by the post-Republican Revolution 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. The proposed law was adopted by the Senate (93–5), and the House (374–37).The Act became law without a presidential signature on November 8, 1995.
    The Act recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city.”
    This law made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. This happened under Bill Clinton, not the idiot evil Orange Man.
    “On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem by 90–0. The resolution reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act and called upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions.” After this UNANIMOUS declaration by the Senate, BAD Trump abided by their decision and allowed the US Embassy move to Jerusalem. The media was aghast!
    “Only a handful of countries has agreed to recognize undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
    Then Biden refused to reverse the Senate’s and idiot Trump’s decisions. The media cheered! NO politician goes against Israel, no matter what they do.

  8. Israel is beyond an “apartheid” state; it is a fascist state! Let’s name names and call a spade a spade. Zionism is the other side of Fascism.

  9. Just a few facts
    1, The disputed buildings in East Jerusalem that allegedly “provoked” Hamas to launch its latest rocket attack (against both Jewish and Arab communities in Israel) have been built on land that has been bought by Jews in the 19th century and have been inhabited by Jews until their expulsion in 1948, the Jordanian Government which occupied the area settled them with Palestinians in 1956. The Israeli Supreme Court is yet to give a verdict in the issue. Personally I think that even if the Jewish owners are right is not wise to evict the present dwellers and that another solution must be found.
    2. In 1967 Jordan attacked Israel and lost . As a result the parts of Mandate Palestine occupied by Jordan fell under Israel control until most of them were transferred to the Palestinian Authority pursuant the Oslo Agreements.

    The two state solution is the only solution and it is a pity that the present leaders of Israel and Palestine do not have the vision and cojones to implement it! As the saying goes : everybody knows what needs to be done but nobody knows how to win an election after doing it!

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