President Joe Biden has reversed Trump era policy in the Middle East and announced that he is restoring aid to Palestine and resuming contact with Palestinian leaders.
The changes in policy were announced in a virtual speech before the UN Security Council by acting US ambassador Richard Mills.
Mills claimed that the Biden administration is committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a secure Israel alongside a “viable Palestinian state.” It is “the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state,” he added.
He announced reversing Trump administration’s policy that tilted towards Israel and urged the two sides to avoid unilateral actions that harm peace efforts. His remark seems to be pointing towards Israel who is annexing Palestinian territory, developing Jewish settlement on it, demolishing Palestinians houses, inciting violence, and providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.
The Trump administration had closed the Washington DC office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation; stopped contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants; moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds (Jerusalem), recognising the city as Israel’s capital; recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights; and presented a peace proposal which left all Israeli West Bank settlements in place.
Mills admitted that the relations between Israel and Palestine are “at a nadir.” But he was optimistic the new administration will start working to slowly build confidence on both sides to create an environment in which “we might once again be able to help advance a solution.”
He, however, did not hint at reversing either the embassy move to Jerusalem or US recognition of Israeli rule of the Golan Heights.
The one thing that the US is steadfast is “its support for Israel.”
Mills praised the US-brokered establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab nations. Palestinians called it a betrayal of Arab pledges to make peace with Israel only after the Palestinians made peace.
President Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel. He has close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though their relations have at times been strained. Their ties were at their lowest in 2010 when Biden was vice president. During his visit to Israel, Netanyahu’s government announced an increase in settlement construction, which Biden took as a personal insult. Netanyahu claimed he hadn’t known the announcement would be made.