Biden deemed even modest Israeli-Palestinian peace measures impossible

By | November 1, 2023

Some US officials believe that, as a practical matter, Mr Biden could reopen the office despite Israeli objections.

Asked about the fate of the consulate in February, then-State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “These things take time. Obviously, there are multiple parties involved in a process like this.

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Jerusalem during the George W. Bush administration, called the years leading up to Oct. 7 a missed opportunity.

“The question can be asked: ‘Why didn’t Biden act to undo what Trump had done?'” Mr. Kurtzer said.

Mr. Kurtzer admitted that Mr. Biden had inherited a “mess” on the Palestinian issue, largely because of Mr. Trump’s policies. And he added that a different political agenda likely would not have prevented Hamas’ deadly attack last month. (The United States has never maintained diplomatic relations with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.)

But Mr Kurtzer said the approach Mr Biden took before October 7 was relevant today.

While it helped that Mr. Biden had reopened dialogue with the Palestinians and provided them with aid, Mr. Kurtzer said the things the president had not done — like reopening the consulate or reestablishing the legal opinion on settlements in the West Bank – had sent a “negative effect”. » he points out.

That has damaged American credibility in the Arab world, Mr. Kurtzer says, and now complicates Mr. Biden’s efforts to support Israel. “Look how quickly the discourse has changed” from sympathy for Israel to condemnation of Israel, he said.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Biden will make more of an effort this time to reach a lasting peace deal. Some U.S. officials still see a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia as an opportunity.

But opportunities have slipped away before.

In May 2021, Israeli forces bombard Gaza for 11 days in response to Hamas rocket fire until a ceasefire ended the fighting.

Deploring the deaths of civilians in the clash, Mr. Biden pledged to “continue our discreet and relentless diplomacy” to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians can coexist peacefully.

“I believe we have a real opportunity to move forward and I am committed to working towards it,” he said.

Two and a half years later, his challenge appears greater than ever.

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