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Does Joe Biden support Apartheid?
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Naftali Bennett, sworn in on 13th June, this year, is the Prime Minister of Israel. Throughout his election campaign, Bennett has been open about his intention to accelerate Israel's brutal destruction of Palestinian homes and its illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands . Now, as he is in power, he is using long-existing laws, tactics and strategies to accelerate and expand what can only be defined as a genocidal campaign against Palestinians. Thus, it is more urgent now ,than ever before, to expose Israel's apartheid policies .

The Apartheid Convention of the United Nations held in 1973 defined apartheid as "inhuman acts committed for the purposes of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them". Since then, dozens of political and religious leaders, human rights groups, academics, legal scholars and international institutions used the term "apartheid" to describe Israel's actions against the Palestinians. In 2017, for example, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) conducted an inquiry on "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid," and concluded that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole".

Biden administration was expected to craft a Middle East policy, more durable and fairer than that of his predecessors. In the inaugural address, he had projected himself as a " beacon for the globe ." But, he could not condemn or criticize the planned Israeli evictions of Palestinians from their Jerusalem homes. Israeli bombings killed more than 200 Palestinians, including scores of children and women. Many high-rise buildings were brought down by their bombings, including one housing the Associated Press and other media outlets. Really, the surge in the violence between Israel and Hamas flummoxed the Biden administration.

About 6.8 million of Jewish Israelis and a similar number of Palestinians live today between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River. This area encompasses Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the latter made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Since 1967 war, Israeli authorities have facilitated the transfer of Jewish Israelis to the Occupied land and granted them a superior status under the law as compared to Palestinians living in the same territory when it comes to civil rights, access to land, and freedom to move .While Palestinians have a limited degree of self-rule in parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) Israel retains primary control over borders, airspace, the movement of people and goods, security, and the registry of the entire population. These are matters that give legal status and eligibility to receive identity cards. This is because the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and hence acts to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation. These make it clear that Israel believes that only Jewish people have any claim over the lands it currently rules over. This ideology both calls for and legitimises a system wherein, as the 2017 UNESCWA document states, "continued domination over non-Jews in all land exclusively under Israeli control" is perpetuated. In pursuit of their goal, Israeli authorities dispossess, confine, forcibly separate, and subjugate Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. These are the most odious crimes in international law.

President Joe Biden won initial but cautious plaudits from Mideast analysts .This was because he rejected the Trump administration's unabashedly pro-Israel stance .He seemed to embrace the Palestinians by restoring aid and diplomatic contacts. But when the latest confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians erupted in April, Biden administration did not even condemn the clearest violation of international law and human rights by Israel - such as the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in a Jerusalem neighborhood - even before the condemnable Hamas rockets began flying into Israel. In the process, Biden's image, his agenda to lead on human rights and international law, and his support from key Democratic constituents at home have been badly damaged. At home, some Democrats and other progressives began voicing their frustration. "The United States must call for an immediate cease-fire and end the provocative and illegal settlement activity. And we must also recommit to working with Israelis and Palestinians to finally end this conflict," Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, said in a statement. While it categorically condemned Hamas's rocket attacks on Israel and backed Israel's absolute right to self-defence, the Biden administration has been either unwilling or unable to say whether the Palestinians meet the criteria to enjoy that same right of self-defence.

It has also not modified long-held U.S. policy that the Palestinians are ineligible to take their grievances to the International Criminal Court because they are not a state.The weak response by Biden administration to Israel's threatened evictions of Palestinian families from east Jerusalem- which was the proximate cause of the latest tensions- has frustrated those looking for a new U.S. approach.

The net result is that Biden has badly damaged his credibility. But that's only part of the story. The United States is not a bystander in Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it is part and parcel of the overwhelming asymmetry of power favoring Israel. Even when the United States does nothing, it is implicated in what Israel does. It is the country shielding Israel at the United Nations, by discouraging, often vetoing, U.N. action against its occupation. It is fair to say, that this shielding of Israel is one important reason that Israel has been able to maintain its 54-year-occupation, since 1967, Palestinian territory. Second, the principal reason that Israel maintains military superiority, is only the support of the US. This is not only in relation to occupied Palestine but also against any other regional powers. It has been U.S. policy to uniquely provide Israel with a qualitative military edge to maintain its supremacy in the region. A third reason for the imbalance of power is that the United States has used its clout and resources with Arab countries to make deals with Israel, without serious concessions on Palestine, from the Camp David Accords to the Abraham Accords. If Biden cannot leverage his unprecedented support to advance the values he professes to hold dear, what hope is there in his being "the beacon for the globe?"

At home, Biden has also badly misread his own Democratic constituency. A pervasive shift has taken hold in their attitudes on Israel and Palestine controversies. A recent Gallup poll, for example, showed that 53% of Democrats supported putting more pressure on the Israelis to advance peace, ("up from 43% in 2018), marking a substantive change in Democrats' perspective on Palestinian positions. Yet the Biden administration retains key elements of President Donald Trump's policies, including the legitimacy of Israeli settlements that is manifestly biased against Palestinians. It is not surprising that on Friday,30th July, the US State Department announced its approval to sell 18 CH-53K helicopters to Israel, under a deal worth $3.4 billion. The deal includes, according to the statement, "engines, navigation devices, equipment, support equipment, spare parts and technical support." The spokesman added that "The United States is committed to Israel's security, and it is important to American national interests to help Israel develop and maintain its strong readiness and self-defense capacity."

Naftali Bennett, the new Israeli Prime Minister, proclaims Israel's right to sovereignty in all of Jerusalem as well as the entirety of the West Bank. He rejects the notion of the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel - the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is what is advocated by the international community, including US President Joe Biden.

However, published coalition agreements show that the new government would focus mostly on economic and social issues, rather than risk an internal fight by trying to address the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Anyway, Bennett will have executive powers as prime minister to further solidify the occupation. Yet, as a pragmatic,it is observed that he may avoid an early confrontation with the U.S.as his fragile and ideologically diverse government will have a tough time in taking any groundbreaking steps.

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TAGS:Us-Israeli relations Joe Biden Democrats Israeli apartheid 
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