Biden to walk strictly political travel to Israel, Palestine
Earlier in his trip to the Middle East this week, U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Israeli leaders and then make a free stop in the Israeli -occupied West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, before heading in Saudi Arabia for the second leg to lobby regional countries on oil and “normalization.”
Biden’s path will be difficult, as it comes following Israel’s assassination of American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May. Usually, the US makes powerful statements in response to killings of Americans abroad, but not in this case because the killer is Israeli.
To help smooth Biden’s path, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a cautious statement in English insisting that Israel should not be blamed for the murder of Abu Akleh. Biden waffles on the subject, trying to please both sides, though mostly Israelis.
Despite the massive support Israel enjoys among Americans, Biden knows that the murder of a U.S. journalist puts him at odds with the standard pro-Israel news media and creates an awkward atmosphere when he travels in the region. . Outlets such as CNN and The Washington Post reported in almost unanimity that Israel was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death. This raises the question, what will Biden do about it? The answer is probably no.
Biden hopes to walk through the fog created by Gantz’s statement to focus on other goals, such as strengthening ties with Israel and preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The US president also wants to help Tel Aviv’s attempts to expand its normalization policy to other regional countries. But he will not be able to do any of that if the assassination of Abu Akleh continues on his political agenda like the sword of Damocles.
Abu Akleh’s family – American citizens living in the West Bank – sent Biden a letter requesting a meeting, criticizing his “betrayal” in refusing to condemn Israel. Biden did not respond to the family, but his spokesmen blamed the killing of Abu Akleh during a military raid in Jenin on “an Israeli bullet,” not an Israeli sniper.
Recent polls show that Americans are slowly but steadily changing attitudes and supporting Palestinians.
Biden and Israel knew they had to deviate from this issue if they wanted the trip to be successful. The president’s credibility is at stake.
Failure to hold the Israeli government accountable for Abu Akleh’s assassination will further weaken Biden politically as he and the Democratic Party approach midterm elections in Nov. 8. Traditionally, the political party that holds the White House loses seats in congress during midterm elections. .
Recent polls show that Americans are slowly but steadily changing attitudes and supporting Palestinians. Biden needs to be able to answer the questions he has tried and continues to try to pin down responsibility for Abu Akleh’s murder, but it has yet to draw a conclusion, not even on this journey.
Election politics was heavy on him. Nor will Biden forget the criticism President Barack Obama received from the powerful pro-Israel movement for not visiting Israel until his second term in office. Instead, Obama visited Cairo less than six months after his election, promising a “new beginning” in relations. Biden, who has been vice president in the Obama administration, does not want to make the same mistake or see support soften from the pro-Israeli community.
To balance his perceived strong support for Israel, Biden announced during his presidential election campaign a “partnership” with Arab Americans. He said he would appoint Arab Americans to key positions in his government and address their concerns, emphasizing the fight against racism while promoting “democracy and human rights around the world.”
However, the reality of the Biden administration is even more troubling. Biden has appointed dozens of Arab Americans to support positions in the White House and State Department, but they seem to have failed and are hesitant to speak publicly on issues related to the Middle East, particularly Palestine. .
Biden’s walk in the political minefield of the Israel-Palestine conflict would be like walking a tight rope while holding a balancing pole with unfulfilled promises to Israelis and Palestinians on both ends.
- Ray Hanania is an award -winning former reporter and Chicago City Hall political columnist. She can be reached on her personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News
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