U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to take a rights-based approach to U.S. foreign policy.
But how Israeli airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip, killing more than two dozen Palestinians in the besieged coastal territory, Palestinian defenders say Biden does not apply this rule to Israel, and without U.S. pressure, Israel has little incentive to change its stance.
Phyllis Bennis, an analyst at the U.S.-based Institute for Policy Studies, said that “as long as the United States is not willing to hold Israel accountable,” any statement by the Biden administration about ongoing violence should not be made. would lead to climbing.
“We continue to hear from President Biden that he wants a foreign policy based on human rights. What we do not see is any real commitment to human rights, and certainly in this case there is no will. use political capital“Bennis told Al Jazeera in an interview.
Israeli incursions into Gaza come after weeks of growing tension over the forced displacement approaching of several Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem from which Jewish settlers have been trying to expel them for decades.
The situation increased when Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, and wounded hundreds of Palestinian faithful during several days of violence. Protests erupted in the occupied territories and in the interior of Israel. The Palestinian faction Hamas, which rules Gaza, fired rockets at Israel.
According to local health authorities, at least 32 Palestinians, including several children, have been killed in Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip so far, and observers fear the situation could worsen. Three Israelis have been killed in the Palestinian rocket.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday afternoon that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad “would pay a very high price for their belligerence” and said Israel was “in the midst of a heavy campaign.” Hamas pledged to respond if Israel continued its air raids.
The Biden administration, which took office in late January, had made it clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on the list of priorities amid other pressing domestic and foreign issues.
But Yara Asi, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center Washington, DC and a postdoctoral student at the University of Central Florida, said that when the U.S. stuffed $ 3.8 billion in military aid to Israel annually and provides diplomatic and political coverage to the Israeli government in international settings such as the United Nations, it is “naive” for Washington to try to disassociate itself.
“There is no more intimate external actor outside of Israelis and Palestinians than the United States, and this has been the case for decades – and it continues,” he told Al Jazeera.
“It’s not just not appointing an ambassador to Israel and saying, ‘Well we’re from prioritizing.’ It’s too late for that. It’s really just tacit acceptance of what’s going on. In a way, the U.S. supports everything. what is happening “.
As the violence continues to unfold, the Biden administration has issued a series of statements urging a de-escalation. But observers have criticized the U.S. government for not recognizing the asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians and are urging Biden to do more.
On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price called for moderation and calm. “Israel has the right to defend itself and respond to rocket attacks; the Palestinian people also have a right to security, just as the Israelis do, ”he said during a briefing.
The price had been criticized instant “Israeli and Palestinian officials must act decisively to reduce tensions and stop violence” in Jerusalem on May 7, the same day as Israeli forces assaulted Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Analysts noted that Israel, which occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1980, is the only authority in the city.
Palestinian rights defenders also criticized Price for not saying Palestinians have a right to self-defense when journalists pressured them during a State Department briefing on Monday. After a back-and-forth discussion, Price finally said, “I’m not in a position to debate the legalities up here. Our message is de-escalating.”
Khaled Elgindy, director of the program on Palestine and Israeli-Palestinian Affairs at the Middle East Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera that Monday’s exchange highlighted the fact that the conversation points of the U.S. government with previous decades are no longer working.
“The disconnect between the discussion points and reality is too great,” he said.
The Biden administration seems to have believed he would take office, “reverse some terrible Trump policies, leave some others in his place, and then put everything on the platform and forget,” Elgindy said.
“But you can’t forget it because there is an occupation and a blockade and these things are not static … There is no stagnation; it just gets worse for the Palestinians. Not waiting for things to explode is naive, because they always do. ”
Meanwhile, Palestinian defenders held protests in front of the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC, on Tuesday afternoon to demand that the Biden administration prevent the forced evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. .
Laura Albast, organizer of the Palestinian Youth Movement, one of the groups involved in the demonstration, also told request with more than 200,000 signatures it was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to stop forced displacement.
“We send billions of dollars in taxpayer money to Israel to fund the military,” Albast told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “Why is Israel the exception when it comes to human rights abuses?”
Elgindy said it was crucial that the Biden administration intervene now to prevent further violence in Gaza, or the situation could turn into a repeat of terrible Israeli military offensives in Palestinian territory, such as one in 2014 that left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.
“It’s really important that this administration does everything possible to prevent this from happening,” he said, “and that means putting a stop to the Israelis.”