Palestinian Arabs have seemingly been successful at getting the Biden Administration to demand “equality” between the Israelis and Palestinians. It is unclear what that means.
In May 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden said “I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy.” A few days later, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tweeted something similar “I underscored America’s ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, and we discussed the importance of promoting peace, security, and dignity for all.” For those who make a living parsing words of politicians who rehearse their sound bites, there was a bit to review.
Biden’s comments were focused on the people (Palestinians and Israelis) while Blinken focused on security for a country (Israel) and then rights for everyone (Palestinians and Israelis). Biden sought “equal measures” regarding “freedom, prosperity and democracy” while Blinken highlighted “peace, security and dignity for all” after giving preference to Israeli security. Biden’s “safely and securely” and “freedom and democracy” were likely meant to be used interchangeably with Blinken’s “peace, security”, but it is doubtful that Biden’s focus on “prosperity” was meant to equate to Blinken’s “dignity.”
Months later, Blinken leaned into “dignity” when he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in February 2022 when he said “Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve to live with equal measures of security, freedom, prosperity and crucially, dignity.” He introduced Biden’s focus on prosperity but sought to underscore his belief that dignity is crucial for both people.
In March 2022, when Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr came to the region, he “reiterated the Biden Administration’s philosophy that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity.” Amr continued the administration’s emphasis on prosperity as a key goal but declined to mention “dignity.”
The various statements beg the question of what equal measures regarding freedom, security, prosperity and dignity, and whether each are just as important.
Freedom. One interpretation might mean the Palestinians should have freedom of movement for people and goods in and out of the terrorist enclave of Gaza. Is the U.S. pushing to end the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt immediately, or only in context of a resolution to the conflict? Would such stand exist if the terrorist group of Hamas continues to rule the area?
Freedom could mean the right of self-determination. While one might belief based on the media that Palestinian Arabs have none, in reality, all Gazans have self-determination and the vast majority of Arabs in the West Bank (those living in Areas A and B) similarly have self-determination.
Security. Does the Biden Administration want the Palestinians to have an army like Israel? Since the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s began a pathway towards Palestinian self-determination, Israelis held firm that any future Palestinian state could not have a standing army in the narrow strip of land abutting Israel. Is the Biden campaign pressuring Israel to change that position?
Prosperity. The United States gives Israel billions of dollars each year and has had a difficult time sending monies to the Palestinian Authority directly (it funnels monies to them indirectly via the United Nations) because the PA refuses to stop rewarding terrorism with “martyr payments” to terrorist families. Is Biden signaling that he will push congress to get rid of the laws which prohibit the promotion of Palestinian Arab terrorism and start sending the PA the same amount of money as the government invests in Israel?
Dignity. Israeli Jews lack the basic human rights to pray at their holiest location of the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Will the Biden Administration push to overturn the current status quo in exchange for Palestinians having a military?
The action plans may be underway.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted on March 16, 2022 about his excitement that more monies were flowing to Palestinians: “Pleased to see lots for Palestinians in the budget just signed by @POTUS Biden: $144 million increase (now $219 million) for Economic Support Funds, $40 million for security forces training in the WBank, and $50 million for 2nd year of the Nita Lowey MEPPA Fund,” a strange comment for the ambassador TO ISRAEL to comment on aid elsewhere.
Blinken is in Israel now and will talk about the Russia-Ukraine war, the refugees crisis and its impact on the region, Iran’s nuclear program and its threat towards the world, the emerging peace between Israel and various Arab countries stemming from the Abraham Accords, and the Palestinian Arab- Israel conflict. The administration’s pivot towards the Palestinians can be seen at 11:50 in the video, when Blinken said that he will meet with “Palestinians in East Jerusalem who are a critical part of the city’s vibrant and diverse civil society and underscore our work with Palestinian non-governmental government organizations.” Is Blinken saying that East Jerusalem is Palestinian and that “equality” further extends to splitting Israel’s capital?
The United States is pushing the notion of equality between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as an end-goal of negotiations. Will advocating for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and a Palestinian army kill the peace process before it begins?