US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s arrival in Jerusalem last week marked the Biden administration’s first high-level public involvement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. days after stop the fire Called between Israel and Hamas, which ended an 11-day fighting that killed nearly 250 people in Gaza, including 66 children, and 10 adults and two children in Israel, Blinken’s visit prompted the administration’s approval for this. Stopped an unsuccessful attempt to prioritize the issue. . There was also a subtle belief that simply ignoring the conflict would not end it.
But what exactly is the purpose of Blinken’s new diplomacy? Ahead of his departure in the region, America’s top diplomats tweeted that he spoke with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to “ensure a ceasefire”, and was “aware of the US commitment to working with the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations to provide rapid humanitarian assistance”. Did it.” President Joe Biden added to his own statement That Blinken “will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild and support relations with the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.”
However, a week ago the administration had provided lumbar support Offering no such support for the Israeli bombing of Gaza – specifically the use of Palestinian force – as part of Israel’s “right to defend itself” argument. was shattered four attempts To issue a statement calling for a ceasefire at the United Nations Security Council. While the administration claimed credit for the cessation of large-scale violence that ultimately led to its “behind-the-scenes diplomacy, “it was clear leg work Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Qatar and Jordan.
Incompatible with Blinken’s ceasefire mission, however, is the fact that Abbas and the PA were not parties to it, or that the PA is barely present in Gaza and has no influence over Hamas. Blinken’s itinerary did not include a trip to Gaza, the epicenter of the genocide and a potential destination for American humanitarian relief, or to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where efforts to replace Palestinian families with Jewish settlers sparked weeks of protests. helped ignite. 11 day war between Hamas and Israel. Instead, Blinken met with Abbas in Ramallah, probably because he is not Hamas – which, perhaps, is the PA chairman’s only remaining source of legitimacy.
our man in the west bank
During the crisis unfolding over the past five weeks in Jerusalem, Gaza and beyond, Abbas has been a modest figure, to no avail, at the events taking place around him, which have dented his position among his public. As such, the nature of Blinken’s involvement appears more like an intervention to save his favorite Palestinian negotiator, while curtailing the potential gains Hamas is likely to earn through its direct involvement in the fight with Israel. .
During his meeting with Abbas, Blinken announced that the U.S. reopening your consulate In Jerusalem, which serves as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians. The move and the manner in which it was announced were clearly intended to give Abbas something on Jerusalem that he could show his people. It was accompanied by a fresh pledge of US aid to the Palestinians.
How effective this will be in reviving Abbas’s image is an open question. The PA president’s troubles go beyond optics. Polling regularly shows that over 65% The Palestinians want Abbas to resign, and the majority feel the PA has become a burden on them. These numbers do not yet reflect the blow Abbas has suffered from the recent eruption of the conflict, or his decision on April 29. Parliamentary elections canceled in which his Fatah party was facing a serious challenge to its continued rule (decided) widespread condemnation before the developments in Jerusalem concentrated among the Palestinians). Given that elections for the PA were last held in 2006, Abbas has no democratic mandate; And without a compelling vision or strategy for the future around which Palestinians are rallying, the president and the PA are facing deepening crisis of legitimacy.
Hamas’ reputation has also been damaged by years of ineffective rule in the Gaza Strip without a popular mandate.march voting Heading towards elections with around 20-30 per cent support). However, recent fighting has allowed Hamas to once again make the case for its brand of armed resistance – that its rockets are capable of disrupting Israeli lives, capturing international attention and urgency, and demonstrating to the world that There was no military solution. Gaza Hamas has shown it has improved its capabilities despite three other major Israeli bombing missions and a 14-year blockade of the region. In addition, Hamas demonstrated its relevance beyond Gaza by “defending” Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque after aggressive Israeli actions against Palestinians in the holy city during the month of Ramadan (a period in which Abbas seems impotent in comparison). was). It’s also true that Hamas is interfering polarization among Palestinians, many of whom see rocket fire at Israel as not only bringing more death and destruction to Gaza, but widespread grassroots insurgency, which continues after ceasefires across the country.
Ironically, Hamas’ rocket fire also drew the attention of the Biden administration and made Abbas’s fate a matter of concern. Unlike other authoritarians in the Middle East, Abbas’ legitimacy for the West now rests on the choice of actors who America finds distasteful.
A dangerous approach to Palestinian politics
The Biden administration’s involvement in the latest crisis symbolizes the divisive and problematic nature of America’s involvement in Palestinian politics. With Washington limiting their participation to the Fatah-led PA, Palestinians face enormous risk of unifying their politics and holding democratic elections, which will likely involve political factions in the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization, With whom America is not ready to work. To avoid that risk, PAs are encouraged to remain non-representative and authoritarian, using security mechanisms funded and trained by their Western partners. crush opposition and dissent.
With the passage of time, this sclerotic PA has become increasingly disconnected from the population under its control, particularly as 60% are now under the age of 25 – of whom about 70% are unaffiliated with any political faction. Postponing elections not only keeps Hamas away from the government, but also from the rest of society. Before the May 22 election was cancelled, 36 party lists were eligible to run, representing a wider breadth of the population than Fatah and Hamas.
While the Biden administration cannot be blamed for the canceled elections, it signaled to the PA leadership that it “UnderstandIf they were postponed, as it was eager to avoid the headache that would accompany Hamas’ return to PA. As Abbas’s own political fortunes looked bleak, the American equation was all in the ballot box for the PA president. was in need of a return.
There is no doubt that formulating a constructive US policy with respect to the Palestinians is not as straightforward as it is highly constrained. domestic law and political concerns. An ambitious agenda would require significant political capital, which the Biden administration is prepared to invest in, given other priorities and political battles on the horizon.
Nonetheless, the Biden administration could choose reconsider The US approaches this conflict and paces it with current realities on the ground, even if it wants to avoid a major diplomatic peace initiative. Instead, it opted to recycle the chronological policies of earlier administrations such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and to a lesser extent Barack Obama—with Abbas and PA featuring front and center. Since the US is unprepared to face any policy option other than a two-state solution, the highly dependent PA leadership also remains on course. But the deepening of the one-state reality on the ground has forced the majority of Palestinians to abandon the two-state solution as a viable option, and has caused the relationship between the public and the PA to widen. is. Without legitimacy, public support or the incoming Palestinian state, what role is the PA playing other than as a enforcer of the status quo?
As Blinken finished his Middle East tour, he spoke about Achieve peace in Gaza without addressing the underlying issues causing violence and will continue to do so, if not dealt with seriously, including Israel’s endless military occupation and denial of basic human and political rights to Palestinians, as well as Gaza’s Ongoing siege is involved. . While there is a human dimension to all of this on which the Biden administration is inclined to focus more, the conflict is fueled by a political context that cannot be ignored without constantly reproducing instability. Part of that political context is the Palestinian leaders and institutions that represent their people. For that, America must change its policies so that it does not stand behind those who do not, and therefore stand in the way.
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