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Biden's visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank entrenches the humanitarian paradigm

U.S President Joe Biden (C) is welcomed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid (L) with an official ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on July 13, 2022. [Israeli Prime Ministry - Anadolu Agency]
U.S President Joe Biden (C) is welcomed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid (L) with an official ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on July 13, 2022. [Israeli Prime Ministry - Anadolu Agency]

When the Palestinian Authority leader jumped on the US bandwagon spouting status quo rhetoric, he should have remembered President Joe Biden's dedication to Zionism and colonial Israel. Upon arriving in Israel yesterday for a two day visit during which he will also go to the occupied West Bank, Biden said, "I realised that I had the great honour to be part of the great history of this country. I'll say it again, you need not be a Jew to be a Zionist." That "great history", remember, is built upon a distorted narrative and the ethnic cleansing of the people of Palestine.

Israeli media have described clearly the discrepancies in Biden's visit. In Israel, he will be meeting with Israeli leaders, given tours of Israeli security systems and visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, built near the ruins of Deir Yassin, the village where the infamous massacre of Palestinian men, women and children took place at the hands of Zionist terrorists in 1948. The irony will no doubt be lost on the US president. In stark contrast, in the occupied West Bank Biden will be meeting with Mahmoud Abbas and visiting a hospital for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem. Getting away from the humanitarian paradigm in occupied Palestine is essential — it is, after all, a political not simply a humanitarian issue at its core — and yet the PA continues to settle for slivers of aid which only serve to boost Israel's impunity. Axios reported that Biden will be announcing a pledge of $100 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals.

Humanitarian aid has changed nothing for Palestinians, other than exacerbate the colonial violence which Israel instigates against the Palestinian population, knowing full well that the international community will intervene financially to ease some of their suffering. Pledging financial aid to Palestinians hospitals, while necessary for their survival, is also evidence of how the US is willing to step in to protect Israel's violations of international law. It is impossible to forget that tens of thousands of Palestinians have needed hospital treatment as a direct result of Israeli state and settler violence.

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For the PA, these aid gimmicks are tried and tested, and do not require Abbas to step out of his comfort zone. Biden's gesture will also reinforce Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz's overtures to Abbas, designed to keep the subservient PA in power and the Palestinian people subjugated. Work permits are not synonymous with freedom, and the fact that Palestinians are being forced to accept survival over freedom says much about the PA's non-existent leadership and its dependence upon Israel to survive in its illegitimate political realm. Gantz, meanwhile, has been lauding Biden for being "a true friend of Israel".

According to Biden, the two-state compromise "remains the best way to ensure a future of equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike." Since taking office, rhetoric about "equal measures" has been a staple of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, yet nothing out of the vague idealistic concept has materialised. Of course, Israeli colonialism stands in the way, just as much as the two-state compromise impedes Palestinians from decolonisation.

So far, the US has only strived to keep the PA afloat by cajoling Israel into giving the Palestinian people meagre concessions to survive, tactics which the PA celebrates as a prelude to negotiations. The PA did the same when Biden was elected and Abbas prostrated himself unequivocally to garner US favour, instead of acknowledging that Biden would simply endorse Trump's legacy against a backdrop of the politics of the bogus two-state "solution".

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

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