Will Biden uphold Trump’s bribery diplomacy for Israel?

Former U.S. President Donald Trump halted U.S. financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also shuttered the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), gave the green-light for Israel's annexation of Golan Heights, and kept mum on Israel's expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Biden, on the other hand, is in no hurry to reverse the policies that have led to Trump being hailed as "the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history." Biden's only move so far has been to announce that U.S. financial aid to the UNRWA will continue.

Trump pursued a policy dubbed as “bribery diplomacy” to get Arab regimes to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel. In this context, Sudan was removed from the "List of Countries Supporting Terrorism," and Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed "Western Sahara" region was accepted. The Moroccan administration did not want to take the steps expected by Israel until Rabat was certain that Biden would not reverse Trump's decision. 

According to the messages sent from the White House to Morocco, the Biden administration is in no hurry to reverse Trump's decision. It seems that the Biden administration has every intention of continuing Washington’s pro-Israeli "bribery diplomacy."

While we’re on the subject, allow me to refresh your memory. Sudan had agreed to pay $335 million in compensation for 224 Americans who lost their lives in the bomb attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that Sudan must pay a total of $10 billion, but the Trump administration lowered the amount to $335 million and removed Sudan from from the list of countries supporting terrorism in exchange for Khartoum making a deal with Tel Aviv. 

The U.S. pays only a few thousand dollars per person to compensate for innocent civilians who are killed in attacks carried out by American jets and drones in Afghanistan. The discrepancy between the sums paid for the life of an American and that of an Afghan give one a good idea about "American justice."

While previous American administrations openly supported Israel, they advocated for a "two-state solution," even though in practice it does not alter the situation of the Palestinians. 

The so-called peace plan that Trump packaged under the name "The Deal of the Century," which reversed this policy, only served to strengthen Israel and weaken the Palestinians. Whether Biden will return to the pre-Trump status quo with regards to his Palestine policy, or revoke his predecessor’s Golan Heights decision, along with the question of whether the PLO Washington Representation will be given the greenlight again are all among hotly debated issues at the moment.

The first statement from the Biden administration was that the United States would continue to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Biden had also promised that he would return the U.S. to the Iran Nuclear Deal from which Trump had withdrawn to appease Israel. 

Information leaked to the U.S. media signals that Biden will take his time on this issue. On Friday, Biden met with the head of the Israeli Secret Service MOSSAD, Yossi Cohen, at the White House. 

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Advisor, and CIA Director Bill Burns also attended this meeting. 

Biden, who told Cohen that they have a long way to go before returning to the Iran Agreement, did not neglect to give assurances that the U.S. would ask for Israel's input during the negotiation process.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of the Democratic Party, one of last year’s presidential candidates, demanded in a speech at the annual meeting of "J Street," which represents pro-peace liberal Jews,  that the U.S. military aid to Israel be conditioned. Warren stated that U.S. aid must not be used in the West Bank and Gaza. She also called on Biden to halt Israeli settlements in the West Bank and to open the Washington office of the PLO. 

Warren, who was hailed by the Israel lobby for openly defending Israel in the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014, has now been declared as “anti-Semitic.”

Barack Obama, who signed the Iran Nuclear Deal, had a troublesome relationship with the Israeli government as well. During his tenure, Biden served as vice president. However, it’s no secret that Biden has had very warm ties with Israel since the early 1970s. Let's see if Biden will continue with Trump's Israel policy, or will he just resort to making minor changes?

#Joe Biden
#Donald Trump
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