Palestinians have little hope for major change under Biden administration

Nov 09,2020

‘Biden will take us back to before Trump’s era which was not in the favour of justice for Palestinians.’

Elis Gjevori

Palestinians watch on with scepticism as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take up residence in the White House.

The tumultuous US presidential elections finally sputtered a presumptive winner over the weekend: Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

Amid unproven allegations of fraud, largely fanned by the outgoing President Donald Trump, the results were a relief for more than 75 million voters who supported Biden. However, there were still 71 million voters who did not repudiate Trumpism, supporting the incumbent president in greater numbers than even 2016.

Further afield, the US election results have been greeted with less fanfare and more indifference.

“Biden or Trump - Republican or Democratic presidents - it does not make any tangible difference in US policy towards the Palestinians and the Israelis,” says the Gaza based journalist Motasem Dalloul.

It’s easy to see why many believe that will be the case. On Israel, Biden and Harris have proven to be staunch and unwavering supporters of the state.

In 1986, speaking to US lawmakers, the then-Senator Biden said US support for Israel “is the best $3bn investment we make,” referring to the annual aid Washington gives to Israel each year.

“If there weren’t an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region,” Biden went on to add.

During the Obama administration's final days in office, the Democratic leader approved $3.8 billion in aid to Israel each year over a period of ten years. Trump renewed the approval.

For Dalloul and others like him in Gaza, that is an indication of what a future Biden administration will offer in terms of policies for the long-suffering Palestinian people.

“Obama, during eight years in the White House, described the settlements as a violation of international law, but he did not stop it. Instead, he continued and increased support for Israel,” said Dalloul speaking to TRT World.

“The difference between him [Obama] and Trump is that Trump said the settlements are ok and Israel is building homes on Israeli land. That's it. Both sides are pro-Israel and against Palestine and the Palestinians,” added Dalloul pessimistically, a sharp contrast to the euphoria sweeping certain parts of the US.

Ardent Zionists

Biden’s vice president pick, Kamala Harris, has been described as being on the “right of Biden” when it comes to supporting Israel.

Even as Democrats have begun to eschew attending events organised by the hawkish Washington-based Israeli lobby group, AIPAC, Kamala has been three times, even attending off the record addresses to the group.

When asked in 2019 by the New York Times “whether Israel meets international standards of human rights”, Harris replied, “overall yes”.

The current Trump administration has gone further than any before in legitimising Israeli action: moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, cutting funding to the Palestinian Authority, closing the offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Washington DC, in addition to cutting funding to UNRWA, the UN leading body helping Palestinians refugees.

The so-called peace plan concocted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner saw Palestine reduced to “bantustans worse than Apartheid South Africa,” according to Abir Kopty, a Palestinian commentator currently working on her PhD in Media and communication at the Free University of Berlin.

“Trump has been the worst international enemy to Palestinian aspirations for justice and freedom,” added Kopty, speaking to TRT World.

Kopty, however, is cautious over the prospects of a Biden administration.

Biden might be able to “reverse some of Trump’s policies,” says Kopty “but that doesn’t mean Biden will be better for Palestinians.”

An establishment safe pair of hands, Biden’s tenure as president is unlikely to see a radical departure from policies that the previous pre-Trump administration followed.

Biden may “soften” some of Trump’s policies says Kopty, but he will not push for “profound change on the ground.”

Support for Israel financially and politically is unlikely to be impacted. Biden, says Kopty, will “take us back to before Trump’s era which was not in the favour of justice for Palestinians.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already made the transition to the new administration.

As it became increasingly clear on Sunday that Biden would form a new government, Netanyahu went on to Twitter to congratulate the president-elect.

“Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the US and Israel,” said Netanyahu.

Palestinian activists, however, are not holding much hope for a Biden administration providing a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Our hope is sourced in the emerging and growing political grassroots movement on the ground like Black Lives Matter, solidarity with immigrants and anti-racism. We as Palestinians feel part of these movements, if there will be a change, it will come from there, not from Biden, Harris or any other establishment president,” said Kopty.

TRT

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Palestine Post 24