File Image: Anadolu Agency
US President Joe Biden declined a request from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet on the sidelines of UNGA last week. According to a report published by Axios News, White House told the Palestinian National Authority that Biden was neither available for a meeting in New York nor later at the White House. It was because of this, the publication touted, that Abbas altered his decision to address the summit in person.
Since taking office Biden has stopped short of prioritising the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on foreign policy, a stance that comes in contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump.
Under Trump’s proposed plan, Israel would have been allowed to annex 30 percent of the West Bank to incorporate settlements and the Jordan Valley. However, Biden has blatantly denounced zionist agenda of annexation, albeit he nodded to the protection of Israel’s security and sovereignty. Golan Heights, which Israel annexed after the six day war and Trump recognised as a part of Israel, remain of particular importance.
Trump, a close ally to former zionist, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, has also shown support to Israel’s claim over Jerusalem. Soon after assuming office in 2016, Trump had announced the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and also subsumed the consulate in the mission. However, Biden promised to reopen the consulate and establish communication with Palestinians.
Following the six-day war in 1967, Israelis occupied the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and much of the Sinai Peninsula. Subsequently, the Jews commenced the construction of settlements. However, Palestinians objected to it and since then both the communities have been trading barbs over the occupied land. During his tenure as US President, Trump promised the then Israeli PM and his close ally Benjamin Netanyahu to continue building in settlements across the West Bank, so long as the construction did not expand beyond communities’ “existing footprints”.
Recently, Israel has said that the United States’ plan to reopen its consulate in the contested city of Jerusalem is a “bad idea” and could destabilise newly-appointed PM Neftali Bennett’s government. Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967’s six-day war and has traditionally served as Washington’s base to reach out to Palestinians. While Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, Biden announced that he would soon open the American consulate, which has been closed since 2019.
Image: Anadolu Agency