Joe Biden arrived in the Middle East this week on visit as US president. Landing in Tel Aviv, Biden immediately relayed his support for Israel – saying “You need not be a Jew to be Zionist,” and that the connection between the American and Israeli people is “bone deep.”
This, of course, is not surprising, but is yet still emblematic of the issue with the American backing of Israel. With the US investigation of the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh concluding with little action or regard for the murder, there is little hope for American official support of Palestine.
At a meeting with the president of Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, Biden made no mention of the Israeli killing of Abu Akleh, but rather claimed that was a proud Palestinian. Many have criticized Biden’s failing to take steps to hold Israel accountable.
Voicing his support for a two-state solution, Biden has still come under criticism from Israel for his meetings with Palestinian officials. He is also facing heavy criticism from Palestinians as he and the US continue to not hold Israel responsible for the building of continued illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank – something that makes the two-state solution unviable. Israel is committed to consistently violating international law and enforcing apartheid in Palestine, reiterating that a two-state solution is not possible.
The growth of illegal settlements in Palestine has expanded to more than 685,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem. B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group, launched a campaign ahead of Biden’s arrival to the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. They said, “Without constant backing by the US, Israel would not have been able to politically, geographically and demographically re-engineer the area under its control; to impose military rule over millions of subjects and deny them rights for 55 years; to annex East Jerusalem to its sovereign territory; or to systematically discriminate against its Palestinian citizens.”
Yair Lapid, caretaker prime minister of Israel, said regarding Biden, “You said that you don’t have to be a Zionist, and you were right. And in your case, a great Zionist.” And so, he’s correct in that Biden has proved himself to care more about the structures of oppression in Israel than the lives of Palestinians that are so easily killed.