By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams
Palestinians offered a dour assessment of U.S. President Joe Biden’s policy agenda and track record thus far in the wake of his brief visit to Israeli-occupied territory last week, with one official describing the administration as “like the Trump years with a smile.”
Biden’s trips to East Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Friday were met with protests from rights groups and ordinary Palestinians who decried the administration’s refusal to break substantively from its predecessors and condemn Israel’s deadly military aggression and unlawful occupation of Palestinian land.
During his visit, Biden met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but “did not criticize Israel for expanding settlements, some of which resemble sprawling suburbs, in occupied territory that the Palestinians want for a future state,” the Associated Press reports.
While giving lip service to a two-state solution and expressing his commitment to bringing Palestinians and Israelis “closer together,” Biden said that “the ground is not ripe at this moment to restart negotiations.”
On Sunday, Mohammad Shtayyeh, prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, responded that “if, as the U.S. president said, the [two-state] solution is currently out of reach, then there must immediately be a settlement freeze, in accordance with international law and resolutions to preserve the right of the Palestinian people to their independent state.”
Biden vowed during his Middle East trip to provide $300 million in aid to Palestinians, including millions in funding for hospitals in the besieged territories. However, as The Guardian noted, such pledges “have done little to assuage Palestinian skepticism that the U.S. no longer has an appetite for their cause: Biden said twice this week that he does not think peace is possible ‘in the near term.'”
“Nor did he mention his unfulfilled pledge to reopen a U.S. consulate in east Jerusalem, which served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians before President Donald Trump closed it three years ago,” the newspaper added.
The U.S. president also didn’t heed human rights groups’ calls to cut off the supply of arms to the Israeli military, which has used American-made weaponry to commit atrocities and destroy aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In May 2021, as the Israeli military bombarded Gaza, the Biden administration approved the sale of $735 million worth of so-called “precision-guided weapons” to Israel.
“The lack of accountability for the government of Israel’s serious violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, is perpetuated by U.S. policy,” said Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Instead of providing cover for impunity, the U.S. must support independent, thorough, and credible investigations into these crimes, such as that opened by the International Criminal Court.”