Israel appears convinced that while Biden’ presidency would be tougher, it ultimately cannot reverse current decisions.
Rabat – Israel and the US are rapidly approving new settlements and demolitions in the waning days of the Trump administration. The current US “blank cheque” for Israel is about to run out, Israel’s moves suggest. Yet it also appears Israeli lawmakers are convinced their current efforts will not be reversed by self-proclaimed Zionist President Joe Biden.
Egypt on Wednesday condemned Israel for approving the construction of new settlements in the Palestinian capital of East Jerusalem. Such efforts “undermine the two-state solution,” the Egyptian foreign ministry insisted in its statement. Israel has invited tenders to construct 1,257 new settlement units.
NGO watchdog Peace Now considers the construction plans for thousands of settlements to be Israel’s effective encirclement of Palistians in East Jerusalem.
The planned construction in Givat Hamatos would cut access between East Jerusalem and the Palestinian town of Bethlehem. The newly planned 1,257 units add onto 1,077 units that were approved in February, creating a total number of 2,610 planned new settlements in blatant contravention of international law and UN resolutions.
A new status quo
According to Peace Now, Israel is “taking advantage of the final weeks of the Trump administration in order to set facts on the ground that will be exceedingly hard to undo in order to achieve peace.” With only 54 days left until President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Israel is moving fast to create a new and irreversible status quo.
Trump’s final days in office have been marked by efforts to create a new status quo in regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It appears that while Israeli officials fear a less lenient US administration, they also appear to create a situation that Biden is unlikely to reverse.
The Trump administration has moved to normalize illegal settlements and products from the occupied West Bank, allowing such products to be labelled as “made in Israel.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even visited an illegal Israeli settlement in the area, touring the Golan Heights which Trump declared to belong to Israel on March 25, 2019.
It appears Israel is even considering offering custodianship of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem to Saudi Arabia in a last-ditch effort to realize another “normalization” agreement.
Israel and the US have also made significant efforts to discourage opposition to Israel, and undermine free speech on the topic. In 2019, Israeli lobbyists succeeded in convincing Germany to label the Boycott Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS) as anti-semetic. The anti-apartheid boycot movement, which mirrors efforts to boycot Apartheid-era South Africa, was dealt another blow when the US applied a similar label to the movement last week.
Once Joe Biden takes office he will face a daunting task if he genuinely supports a two-state solution as many of his supporters have claimed. The 78-year old President-Elect has a long history of blindly supporting Israel, going as far as calling himself a Zionist. Biden is unlikely to move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, stop the drive for normalization agreements, or even pressure Israel on its new illegal settlements.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Trump-era a “historic opportunity.’ As that opportunity now wanes, Israel and the US appear set on creating an even worse status quo for Palestinians. The point is to ultimately make the new reality on the ground very hard, if not impossible, to undo— even if a Biden administration wanted to.