Biden's inaction on Palestine issue and human rights
President Biden was caught between the demands of human-rights activists and pro-Palestinian campaign groups and the hard realities of US national interests.
During his visit to the Middle East, US President Joe Biden was caught between the demands of human-rights activists and pro-Palestinian campaign groups and the hard realities of US national interests.
Regional experts have pointed out that Biden's visit demonstrates that he embraced an anti-authoritarian plan to win the election. However, Biden's choices since becoming president have become more complicated, especially since the sanctions imposed on Russia upended oil markets and contributed to ballooning inflation.
Notably, Biden has prioritized interests before values, which has practically always been the case in the Middle East. For example, during his brief visits to occupied Al-Quds and Beit Lahm, Joe Biden was met by groups of protesters and billboards denouncing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories as apartheid. These displays expressed dissatisfaction over the president's decision to ignore the Palestinians' demand for statehood during the president's Middle Eastern tour.
According to Paul O'Brien, Amnesty International USA Executive Director, "To demonstrate that there can be no double standards when it comes to advancing human rights, President Biden must have embraced this chance to put human rights progress ahead of short-term objectives. Suppose the US stays on its current trajectory. In that case, it will only give abusive governments more room to muzzle dissenting voices, oppress minorities, and viciously trample millions of people's rights across the area".
He also emphasized that US policy continues to absolve the Israeli government of responsibility for severe crimes against humanity and war crimes. The US must support impartial, exhaustive, and credible investigations into these crimes, such as those started by the International Criminal Court, rather than allowing impunity to continue.
Significantly, President Biden should have condemned persistent human rights crimes during his visit to the region. He must have met with Palestinians resisting ethnic cleansing as “Israel” violently forcibly removed Palestinians from their homes. The United States is “Israel's” most powerful international supporter and closest collaborator and the most powerful facilitator of the settlement project since it has the most stake and clout over the Israeli government.
Moreover, the United States annually provides “Israel” with a minimum of $3.8 billion in military funding. The assassination of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh served as a reminder of the crimes committed by Israeli authorities to maintain their system of oppression and domination over Palestinians, as well as the US' role in sheltering “Israel” from accountability. This is what impunity looks like: no accountability for “Israel's” violence against Palestinians.
Previously, the US policies have sometimes aided "Israel's" settlement expansion and defied four decades of US policy by recognizing West Bank settlements as legal under international law. However, Donald Trump declared that settlements did not violate international law, closed the US consulate in occupied Al-Quds, which effectively served as a Palestinian embassy, and relocated the US embassy from “Tel Aviv” to occupied Al-Quds, considered occupied territory under international law. The Trump administration also abandoned “Israel”-Palestine talks in favor of ignoring Palestinian rights and normalizing “Israel's” relations with Arab states such as the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco.
Now, Biden is effectively carrying on many of these policies. The Biden administration must halt the supply of arms to the Israeli military until it can be ensured that such equipment will not be used to commit serious breaches of international human rights law.
Most importantly, Biden's visit to occupied Al-Quds confirmed that the US remains “Israel's” chief enabler. Biden pledged to continue providing “Israel” with $3.8 billion in annual military aid (more than any other country) to maintain “Israel's” illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.
The Biden administration pledges to oppose the constitutionally protected boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement; to affirm “Israel's” illegal claim of self-defence against Palestinians under occupation; to deter the International Criminal Court's investigation of Israeli war crimes, and to vote against any criticism of “Israel” in the United Nations General Assembly.
Furthermore, while Biden pledges his support for “Israel”, thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank's Masafer Yatta region face forcible expulsion. In their uncritical, unwavering support for “Israel”, Biden's visit demonstrates little difference between his administration and Trump's. The United States government continues to support “Israel's” illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian territory.
Over the years, most American policymakers have taken an “Israel”-centric approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with little regard for the Palestinian people's suffering. Instead, Israelis have been regarded as full human beings with fears and concerns, while Palestinians were limited to a problem that had to be solved for Israelis to live in peace and security.
Unfortunately, Palestinians have been deemed less human than Israelis and thus denied the right to demand that their rights be recognized and protected. As a result, “Israel” acts with impunity, while Palestinian actions are scrutinized and condemned, and their protests are ignored or suppressed as destructive or counterproductive.
The Palestinian issue has become increasingly marginalized. The priorities of the US agenda in the region have relocated to contain Iran and maintain US hegemony. The Biden administration has failed to launch any initiative for Palestinian-Israeli talks, demonstrating a complete disregard for a core conflict in the region and apartheid in the occupied territories, as well as in historic Palestine.