At the beginning of his term, U.S. President Joe Biden set out his foreign policy vision: to restore the respected leadership of the United States on the world stage; take immediate steps to renew American alliances; and strengthen the coalition of democracies. The Achilles heel of this optimistic plan and its credibility are Washington’s anachronistic relations with the State of Israel.
This special relationship is a relic of the Cold War, when the US supported its allies unconditionally – militarily and politically – even when it came to military governments and dictatorial regimes involved in serious human rights violations. Consequently, within Israel’s borders there is a state that grants political and economic privileges to its Jewish majority, and in the West Bank there is an Israeli military dictatorship, which operates according to the same methods as colonialist regimes, most of which go end in the last century.
Recently, two recognized organizations, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, accused the Israeli state of committing apartheid crimes against Palestinians. This, however, did not bring about a change in policy in Washington.
For decades, the United States has maintained a bubble of complete impunity for successive Israeli governments, both in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and on the Israeli borders. It has expanded unconditional support for Israel to the UN Security Council and provided annual military aid. The state of Israel is the main recipient of foreign aid from the United States, as it has been granted about $ 146 billion since it was founded in 1948.
While the United States has often denounced human rights violations and the deterioration of democratic values and institutions around the world, it has hardly criticized the horrific state affairs in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The United States has strongly condemned and even acted against the bombing of civilians in Syria by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but has said nothing about Israeli airstrikes on residential areas of Gaza or the demolition of houses. Palestinians in the occupied areas of East Jerusalem and West Bank. The United States has also spoken out against the wounding and killing of protesters in Myanmar and the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, but has remained silent about Israeli forces that injured and killed protesters in the West Bank and Gaza and displaced with it forces Palestinians from their homes in the occupied East. Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Khan al-Ahmar.
Even when former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned racism toward the Palestinian population and Jewish supremacy into a declared policy, Washington remained a mother.
Under his watch, the Knesset passed the nation-state law, which declared Israel only a nation-state of the Jewish people, while supporters of ethnic cleansing and hate crimes against Palestinians reached positions of power. Not only did he weaken state institutions, undermining the independence of the Knesset, security agencies and the judiciary, but he was also involved in various corruption schemes. However, Washington continued to welcome Netanyahu to the “club of democratic leaders.”
The new government in Israel, which ended Netanyahu’s government for 13 years, presents an important opportunity for a resumption of US-Israel relations. To balance the dynamics between the two countries, many changes need to be made, but there are some steps the U.S. government can take immediately to begin this process.
First, the Biden administration should heed the call of Palestinian, Israeli, and American activists to condition U.S. financial aid on Israel’s commitment to assert human rights and international law. If it continues to violate the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the flow of U.S. assistance should stop immediately.
Second, the Biden administration should demand that the Israeli government stop the illegal evictions of hundreds of Palestinian residents from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
Third, the Biden administration should demand that the Israeli government repeal the nation-state law, which confers a layer of legality on the illegal discrimination of Palestinian citizens in Israel.
Fourth, the Biden administration should demand that the Israeli government repeal Military Order no. 101, passed in 1967 and banning any protest in the occupied West Bank without the permission of the Israeli army, a permit that has so far never been known issued to Palestinians in 54 years of occupation. Palestinians should be given the opportunity to hold nonviolent protests against the Israeli military occupation and dictatorship, freely and without restrictions.
It should be emphasized that none of these are exceptional measures. In fact, U.S. laws, such as the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and others, condition foreign aid in fulfilling a country’s commitments to human rights and international law. The US has conditioned foreign assistance many times and there is no reason why it should not do so for Israel.
By adopting these measures, the United States will end its dual-rule policy that prioritizes the State of Israel over the other states with which the United States has close relations. By now it should be clear to Biden and his team that allowing impunity for the Israeli state and army does not help the people living in Israel and only serves to fuel the endless cycle of violence that both Palestinians and Israelis suffer.
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.