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Biden’s Israel/Palestine Policy

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It seems fairly clear to me at this point that Biden is pretty much giving up on most of the hot button political items that are related to intractable culture wars, both at home and abroad. Immigration is the most prominent example of this, where his policies are way too close to that of Trump, even if extremists want to impeach DHS Mayorkas. A second example is Israel, where Biden seems less engaged than any Democratic president in my lifetime.

The Biden administration is doubling down on its predecessor’s reckless decision to recognize Israel’s claims to Jerusalem as its capital, a break with nearly 70 years of policy. The State Department is advancing plans to erect an embassy building in Jerusalem partly on land stolen by Israel shortly after its establishment from Palestinian refugees, including American citizens.

In 2017, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018. Since then, the embassy has been housed in the neighborhood of Arnona, in what had been the consulate building. In November, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee published detailed blueprints provided by U.S. officials in 2021 for a diplomatic compound on a tract once known as the Allenby Barracks.

The majority of the Allenby Barracks site is owned by Palestinians, including parts of it by my family, whose roots in Jerusalem go back more than 1,000 years. My ancestors and many other Jerusalem families rented this land to Britain at the tail end of its rule over Palestine.

While State Department officials have not confirmed these plans publicly, they have stated that the new embassy will be in Jerusalem — which the Biden administration has affirmed is recognized by Washington as Israel’s capital. “The United States has not yet made a decision on which site to pursue,” a spokesperson told The Intercept. “A number of factors, including the history of the sites, will be part of our site selection process.”

My personal belief is that Biden just doesn’t really care about these issues. But he could make a point here about where the build the new embassy and he is quite clearly not doing that. Or he is, but it’s not the point that those of us who believe that Israel’s apartheid-style government is morally unacceptable.

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