President Joe Biden‘s visit to Israel and the West Bank was a classic case of “don’t write the review until the movie is over.” The president got pretty good marks in Israel during the first two days. The handshakes, fist bumps and smiles—plus the statement about Zionism and his long-standing support for the state of Israel—were good. The Joint Strategic Partnership statement and telling an interviewer that he would not remove the terror designation from Iran’s IRGC Quds Force were welcome. He said a few things certain to irritate the Palestinian Authority (PA), including that he did not see an avenue to the so-called “two-state solution” at present.
Biden’s decisions to bypass the Western Wall in Jerusalem, bar Israeli officials from his visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in eastern Jerusalem, and invite Shireen Abu Akleh’s family to Washington to meet with “government officials” were bad. So was snubbing Arnold and Frimet Roth, parents of 15-year-old American terror victim Malki Roth.
So far, not terrible overall. But then, President Biden got to the West Bank, and it was time to pretend that Palestinians hadn’t heard what he said in Jerusalem—and that Israelis wouldn’t hear what he said in Bethlehem.
There needs to be, Biden said, “two states for two people, both of whom have deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security.” Arabs do not have “ancient roots” in the land; Jews do. And it is the PA that rejects the notion of a legitimate and secure Israel, nixing the possibility of two states—unless one is Hamastan.
That didn’t stop Mr. Biden. “The Palestinian people are hurting now, you can just feel it, your grief and frustration,” he said. “In the United States we can feel it.”
The Palestinian people are indeed hurting, mostly because of the PA’s own corruption and incitement to violence, and because they lack the human rights, civil society and economic advancement enjoyed by an increasing number of countries in the region—specifically, the countries of the Abraham Accords plus Saudi Arabia. The president made no mention of those in Bethlehem and appears not to know that the Arab states (with the exception of Algeria) have stopped funding Palestinian institutions for both reasons.
And worst of all, on Jerusalem as the capital of a future “Palestinian state,” Biden said, “Jerusalem is central to the national visions of both Palestinians and Israelis, to your histories, to your faiths, to your futures. Jerusalem must be a city for all its people…. Throughout this holy land…we must all be free to practice our faith in peace, in safety, and in dignity. We cannot wait for a peace agreement to be reached…. The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own, that is independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous.”
Where to start? Jerusalem is, historically, a “city for all its people” only when Jewish sovereignty has made that possible. People are “free to practice our faith,” again, only when Israel protects that right for Jews as well as for Muslims, Christians, and others.
And finally, it isn’t clear what the Palestinian people “deserve.” But likely it is not the “new contributions totaling $316 million…on top of the more than half a billion dollars the United States has provided to the Palestinian people [under] the Biden Administration” announced in a White House statement. That money, in theory, is for improving access to health care and technology, rolling out 4G digital connectivity, bolstering economic growth, providing services to Palestinian refugees, and more.
That would be, by the White House’s count, $816 million in 18 months—skirting the edges of the American Taylor Force Act. What is Biden buying? Or what does he think he’s buying? Could he really believe he is fixing Irish history?
You read that right: Irish history. Biden announced, “the background of my family is Irish American. And we have a long history not fundamentally unlike the Palestinian people, with Great Britain and their attitude toward Irish Catholics over the years for 400 years.”
So, Jews are British Anglican colonials and Palestinians are Irish Catholic oppressed people? Come on.
It is worth noting that Palestinian strongman Mahmoud Abbas joined Biden’s adventures in Wonderland. In demanding that the U.S. reopen a consulate for Palestinians in Israel’s capital and the PLO office in Washington, Abbas said, “we are not terrorists. We seek a stable and sustainable peace.”
Overall, former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman summed it up fairly well. “Let’s be clear-eyed…. Notwithstanding the love-fest, [Biden] offered no credible deterrent to Iran and denied Israel’s sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem. The trip may be ‘historic,’ but most history relating to the Jewish People is not good.”