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The EU seeks collaboration with Biden, without political space for the Palestinians

March 2, 2021 at 2:33 pm

A protester, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, holds placards during a demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to denounce Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, on 23 June 2020. [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

European politicians are finally waking up to the issue of Israeli annexation of Palestinian land, acknowledging that the suspension brought about by the US-brokered Abraham Accords are not an impediment to the annexation actually happening in what remains of Palestinian territory. A letter addressed to the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell and European foreign ministers, signed by over 400 European politicians, states, “Developments on the ground clearly point to a reality of rapidly progressing de facto annexation, especially through accelerated settlement expansion and demolitions of Palestinian structures.”

However, in line with general opinion about the shift from the Trump administration to that of US President Joe Biden, the latter is, of course, being presented as “an opportunity” in terms of saving the two-state compromise diplomacy.

“The previous US administration left the conflict farther away from peace than ever,” wrote the European politicians. “The Biden administration presents a chance to correct course and creates greater space for meaningful European engagement and leadership.”

But there’s no space for the Palestinian people. The international monopoly over Palestine is playing out in a way that leaves less opportunity for Palestinian independence, even as world leaders claim that their input is conducive to such a result.

READ: Israel demolishes house of disabled Palestinian 

Working with the Biden administration is now presented as an imperative for the EU, on the basis of mutual agreements about the two-state paradigm. The US, however, has so far adopted a stance that is rhetorically in favour of two states, while its actions indicate an acceptance of Trump’s policies.

Israel's annexation of the West Bank - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel’s annexation of the West Bank – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The EU, therefore, will be working with an administration that is unwilling to dissociate itself from decisions taken by the former US president, including the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. To what extent will the EU view Biden as adhering to two-state politics, if there is no intention to revoke earlier policies that have altered Palestine irreparably, unless action is taken?

Opposing settlement expansion is not a difficult path to take. Israel has already faced such opposition from individual governments, the EU and the UN. The international community, though, only uses non-binding resolutions against Israel, which the settler-colonial state ignores with impunity.

Prior to the “deal of the century” and the international community’s acceptance of the normalisation agreements, the question of Palestine was tied to the two-state compromise in terms of international diplomacy. Now, the EU is seeking to work with Biden without asking for a complete revocation of Trump’s policies, which means that the two-state paradigm, defunct in terms of practical application, is altered in diplomatic circles.

The question that should be posed is whether the Biden administration will, as a result of maintaining parts of Trump’s policy regarding Palestine, make negotiations an even more remote possibility. Israel is in no hurry to negotiate; its priority is to broker additional agreements with Arab countries to consolidate its position in the region. The EU, the US and Israel are already on the same page, somewhere between tacit acceptance and settlement expansion. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly marginalised, as the international community validates the initial link between erasure and loss, without a thought for the people who have for decades been doing their utmost to preserve their very existence.

READ: Biden has reassured Netanyahu that the status quo is safe 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.