The White House has been ‘generally hostile’ to Israeli interests.
By Guy Milliere, Gatestone Institute
On May 2018, when the United States Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated on the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel’s founding, the US consulate in Jerusalem became useless and quickly shut its gates. Now, in 2021, the current US Biden administration wants to reopen the consulate, “for the Palestinians,” Arabs ruled by the Palestinian Authority.
Seeing this proposal as a threat to Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declined the request.
“A U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to a foreign body”, wrote the noted attorney and former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and “clearly runs afoul of American law” because of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed overwhelmingly by both the U.S. House and Senate.
“With the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, there was no basis for a consulate to exist. The Jerusalem embassy provides consular services on a non-discriminatory basis to all Israelis and Palestinians — equal treatment for Jews, Christians and Muslims. The consulate thus became obsolete and a waste of taxpayer dollars. I know of no other country where the United States maintains an embassy and a consulate in the same city.”
“The US Embassy in Jerusalem,” asserts Eugene Kontorovitch, a professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, “already provides consular services to the Palestinians.”
“It is unheard of to have an independent consulate in the same city where a country has an embassy. The point of creating a separate consulate is to undermine former US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem… The US does not want to open a consulate merely to have a place for diplomatic connections with the PA [Palestinian Authority]. If that is all they wanted, they could easily do this by opening a mission in Abu Dis or Ramallah — where most other countries conduct their relations with the PA… the purpose of opening the consulate is to recognize Palestinian claims to Jerusalem.”
The consulate is not in the eastern part of the city, emphasized Dore Gold, formerly both Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and Foreign Ministry Director-General. Reopening it would not only be signal “the desire to divide Jerusalem”, he said, but constitute “an attempt to call into question Israel’s sovereignty over the entire city”.
“The opening of the consulate on Agron Road in the west of the city will not only undermine Israeli sovereignty in the capital, it will also result in a serious withdrawal from the status Israel achieved in West Jerusalem prior to 1967.”
The 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations states that “a consular post may be established in the territory of the receiving State only with that State’s consent.” In other words, reopening the consulate may be done only with the consent of the Israeli government.
Nevertheless, it seems that the Biden administration is considering taking lawless unilateral action once again, this time by placing a new sign on the consulate, and getting ready to trigger a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the United States. Aware that such a diktat could lead to a fall of the coalition government currently in power in Israel, the Biden administration is now trying to seduce the Israeli government by making offers to it.
To suggest in exchange the creation of economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, however, is ridiculous: economic ties already exist between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Talking about the introduction of limited visa exemptions to Israeli tourists is no better: to imagine that an Israeli government could consider calling into question of the sovereignty of Israel over its own capital in exchange for visa exemptions is, in fact, an insult.
It appears, however, that the Biden administration, whatever the consequences, does not intend to give up on its destabilizing project.
All this cannot be dissociated from the general hostile attitude of the Biden administration towards Israel from the moment it came to power.
As early as January 26, less than a week after Joe Biden was sworn in, acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills announced that the Biden administration supported “the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security”.
On April 7, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken published a statement declaring that the United States will “restart U.S. economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people”. He added:
“This includes $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)”.
The problem is that this US assistance will not go to the “Palestinian people”, but to the Palestinian Authority — which will doubtless use a significant portion of it to finance more terrorism. The PA still continues to finance terrorism, through a program often nicknamed “pay for slay”. On May 10, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America published a text explaining that “By Renewing Palestinian Aid, America Is Funding Terrorism”.
Part of the US aid money will go to Gaza, hence to Hamas, still officially designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. Blinken, bizarrely, seems to see no contradiction between helping an entity governed by a terrorist organization and contributing to its purported “peacebuilding programs”. UNWRA, despite effectively being an employment agency for Hamas terrorists, will thereby again receive US assistance. Many of its premises serve as arms depots for Hamas, but apparently that inconvenient fact has been set aside.
When, in May, the leaders of Hamas, apparently certain that there would be no American reaction, raised tensions in Jerusalem, incited riots on the Temple Mount, and launched a massive missile attack on Israel, the Biden administration for two days did not say a word. On May 13, answering a journalist, Biden simply said, “Israel has a right to defend itself”. The next day, he added, “Palestinians — including in Gaza — and Israelis equally deserve to live in dignity, safety and security.”
He did not condemn Hamas, which, by firing on densely populated civilian areas, was committing a war crime; instead, he disingenuously put Hamas and Israel on an equal footing, with no distinction between the aggressor and the victim of that aggression.
On May 17, Biden asked Israel’s Prime Minister not to “destabilize the region,” as if it were Israel that had been guilty of initiating the violence and had no right to defend itself. Hamas and Biden both asked for a cease-fire; however, on May 20, as soon as one was in place, Biden, while quickly reaffirming that Israel did have a right to defend itself, immediately promised to “provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people of Gaza and the Gaza reconstruction efforts” — without ever mentioning the damage suffered by Israel.
Since then, the guideline followed by the Biden administration towards Israel appears not to have changed.
On October 22, when the Israeli government accurately designated six Palestinian NGOs affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as “accessories to a terrorist organization”, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price immediately charged that the State Department had not been informed:
“We are currently engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations. It is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate that we did not receive a specific heads-up about any forthcoming designations”.
The State Department, it turns out, had been informed. Not only had it received the necessary information, but the Israeli government had expressed its readiness to provide any missing information.
The State Department appeared to be trying to ignore that the six NGOs designated by the Israeli government as affiliated with the terrorist group, PFLP — Addameer, Al Haq, Bisan Center, the Samidoun Palestine Prisoner Solidarity Network, Defense for Children International Palestine, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees — had been engaging in suspicious activities, described in detail by NGO Monitor.
Addameer, for instance, has been supporting Palestinians imprisoned in Israel for terrorism. Al Haq is defined by NGO monitor “a leader in anti-Israel lawfare” and “BDS campaigns”. The Bisan Center aims to “enhance Palestinian’s resilience” — a word used by Palestinian organizations as a synonym for “resistance”, a euphemism for killing Israelis — for the Samidoun Palestine Prisoner Solidarity Network, which works to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. Defense for Children International Palestine and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees raise funds internationally and use them to finance PFLP activities.
If information was missing, the State Department could easily have requested it; instead, it chose to create a public incident.
On October 27, Israel approved the construction of 1,300 new housing units in settlements in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank (of the Jordan River). Price delivered an extremely harsh condemnation of Israel:
“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution”.
The proposed housing units, however, are to be built inside of settlements that already exist.
What does seem “completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm” are the negative comments against Israel made by the Biden administration. Indeed, they have been leading to increasingly more violent remarks from the Palestinian leadership, who doubtless see themselves as newly empowered by the US.
Prospects for a two-state solution always have been — and still are — totally absent from the speeches of Palestinian leaders. Israel has offered the Palestinians many chances for two-state solutions and for peace; they have always been always rebuffed outright, without even a counter-offer. Now, prospects for a two-state solution are also totally absent from Israel’s new leaders.
On September 24, in his prerecorded address to the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 16th year of his four-year term, falsely accused Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”. He added:
“Circumstances on the ground will inevitably impose equal and full political rights for all on the land of historical Palestine, within one state”.
The Biden administration keeps repeating that it wants a “two-state solution”, but there are signs that it may want more.
On November 9, the Biden administration did not reject a UN resolution called “Assistance to Palestine Refugees”. Instead, it voted to abstain. The text, among other things, says that “Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and income derived from it.” Almost all of the people designated by the UN as “Palestine refugees” have never owned property in Israel and are not real refugees: they were born outside Israel and have never set foot in Israel. On January 14, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote a tweet saying: “it’s estimated <200,000 Arabs displaced in 1948 are still alive and most others are not refugees by any rational criteria”.
The Biden administration, by abstaining, is therefore confirming a lie. “The resolution comes up every three years,” wrote the journalist Yaakov Lappin. “The U.S. abstaining was a marked departure in policy — all previous American administrations except the Obama administration have voted against this resolution.”
Earlier in March, an internal memo from the US State Department was leaked to The National, a daily newspaper in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“The Biden administration memo recommends voicing US principles on achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace under a two-state solution framework ‘based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees'”.
The author of the memo is Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs and Press and Public Diplomacy in the Biden administration, and also in charge of US negotiations with Israel and Palestinian organizations. It is hard to imagine that Amr was chosen as an “honest broker”.
Amr has a long history of anti-Israeli activities. On January 31, 2002, he published in Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper an article in which he said that he was “inspired by the intifada.” Four months later, on May 8, 2002, he published in the same newspaper an article describing Israel as “occupied Palestine”, accusing the Israeli government of “ethnic cleansing” and defining Israel’s supporters in the US of being “pro-ethnic-cleansing activists”.
Amr also is the lead author of a report published by the Brookings Institution in December 2018 in which some proposals are made that could be regarded as disturbing.
The report says that the United States must “reconnect” with Hamas, a fundamentalist terrorist group; seek “to create a Palestinian unity government integrating Hamas”, and “compel Israel to make major concessions”, even if it may “endanger Israel”. The report never defines Hamas as a terrorist group, and never says that Hamas’s goal is to destroy Israel. The report adds “should Israel prove uncooperative with American efforts, the United States could signal it will move ahead anyway.” The report proposes allowing the Palestinians to develop a “greater portion of West Bank Area C under full Israeli control” — meaning a decrease in the territories of Judea and Samaria under Israeli control without the agreed-upon negotiations to determine any outcome. The report also supports the idea that a territorial decrease and a net weakening of Israel are necessary to achieve peace.
Everything the Biden administration does in Israel today seems to be drawn from that report, including the idea of reopening the U.S Consulate in Jerusalem “for the Palestinians”.
The behavior of the Biden administration towards Israel is all the more worrying in that it places itself in a weak position with Iran regarding negotiations and seems ready to make a deal with the mullahs’ regime at any price in a resolution that has already been called “less for less”, or, worse, “less for more”.
The Biden administration, by backing two openly genocidal enemies of Israel, Hamas and Iran, appears committed to destroying the only reliable democracy in the Middle East.
On February 19, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price announced that the United States was ready to “discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program”. He did not mention the multiple violations by Iran’s mullahs of the 2015 nuclear deal. Not one member of the Biden administration criticized Iran’s support for Hamas when Hamas attacked Israel in May.
In June, Iran, well before resuming negotiations on November 29, chose to replace President Hassan Rouhani with Ebrahim Raisi, “the butcher of Tehran”, reportedly a criminal and fanatic. Iranian diplomats are not meeting directly with American negotiators, and only want to speak to European diplomats who act as intermediaries. The Biden administration agreed to that humiliating position.
Iran’s then Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted a tweet on April 2, 2021, stating the goal of the mullah’s regime: “removal of all sanctions”. “No Iran-US meeting. Unnecessary”, he added dryly: the Biden administration’s team are not even in the room.
Two days before the current negotiations began, chief Iranian Army spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said to the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) that Israel’s annihilation is his country’s “greatest ideal before us and the greatest goal we pursue.”
An Israeli diplomatic service briefing recently announced that the Biden administration is ready to accept a deal with Iran that includes only two elements: the removal of all international sanctions still imposed on Iran, and Iran’s pledge to stop enriching uranium, which would mean that Iran’s nuclear program would remain intact and that Iran’s regional destabilization actions, including its threats against Israel, could continue.
Iran claims, truthfully or not, that it already has enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear warhead on short notice. On November 8, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh declared that Iran will only agree to sign a deal with the US if all sanctions are unconditionally lifted. “We either agree with everything or disagree with nothing,” he said.
On September 27, 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that “Israel is ready to act alone if necessary.” The Biden Administration seems, therefore, at a time finally of peace, deliberately acting to destabilize not only Israel’s new coalition government but, more importantly, the entire region. The U.S. seems once again to be igniting, on the heels of its failure in Afghanistan, a second, unnecessary disruption, with all the carnage, global damage and pandemonium that will result. Sadly, it looks as if the legacy of the Biden Administration will be those two historic upheavals. If Biden is looking for yet another disaster to notch on his belt, this is it.
“Is the Biden administration at war with Israel?” asks Martin Sherman, founder and CEO of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
“Undermining the stability and safety of the only reliable democracy in the Middle East,” wrote a physician, Dr. Shmuel Katz, “will… empower the enemies of good”.
Israel, according to the journalist Caroline Glick, is strong enough to defeat its enemies. But, she warns, “Israel’s security establishment needs to wake up from its American delusion. America does not have Israel’s back. Only Israel has Israel’s back”.
On September 30, Hamas, assuming that it now has the full support of the United States, organized a conference in Gaza City to “prepare the future administration of a Palestinian state,” scheduled to take power after the destruction of Israel. The conference defined what would be the fate of the Jews who would survive the war . The Jewish soldiers still alive, those at the conference decided, would all be killed. Non-combatant Jews would be allowed to leave “Palestine”, but educated and economically useful Jews would have to remain, enslaved, and become third-class “tolerated” residents, knows as dhimmis, so that their skills could be used for building the new Palestinian state.
Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, repeated that “the full liberation of Palestine from the sea to the river” is “at the heart of Hamas’s strategic vision.”
Did the Biden Administration even notice?
Dr. Guy Milliere, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.