Millions of Americans who voted for President Joe Biden were satisfied with his regular verbal commitments to Israel and the continued American partnership with the Jewish state. While few would have expected Biden to continue former President Donald Trump’s aggressively supportive relationship with Israel, the current administration’s about-face should make any Israel supporter shudder.
As a non-partisan organization, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME) has until now given Biden the benefit of the doubt, expecting him to reject the radical, anti-Israel proposals of his party’s left-wing and do the right things for the Jewish state. That’s why it’s sad to witness how the Biden administration has rushed to take provocative steps that hurt Israel and bolster an unrepentant Palestinian leadership.
First, there are plans to provide $235 million in aid to Palestinians, restoring part of the assistance cut by Trump. Two-thirds of the amount will go to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, an opaque organization that has been embroiled in corruption, anti-Israel bias and even sheltering terrorists.
UNRWA is one of the prime obstacles to ending the conflict because it profits from its own perpetuation. Unlike other U.N. refugee agencies, UNRWA has not found a durable solution for even one refugee in almost eight decades.
UNRWA uniquely allows some 5 million Palestinians—almost all of them second-, third- and fourth-generation descendants of refugees—to claim refugee status and funding in both the West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza. No wonder FLAME for decades has opposed U.S. funding of UNRWA.
Second, only a few days after taking office, Biden committed to reopening the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission in Washington, even though under an anti-terror amendment passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump in 2019, the Palestinians will become liable for $655.5 million in financial penalties against them in U.S. courts if they open an office in the United States.
By contrast, it took Biden weeks to pick up the phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, America’s strongest Middle East ally and one of our most stalwart allies worldwide.
What makes this even more disturbing is that during those first crucial weeks, the Israeli leader could have pressed his country’s case against rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal—something that now almost seems like a fait accompli, and that Israel considers an existential threat.
Third, just as problematic is the Biden administration’s lifting of sanctions against International Criminal Court lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Trump administration had placed sanctions on Bensouda last year after she launched an investigation into alleged war crimes by Israeli officials and U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan.
Bensouda had been accused of opposing her organization’s own mandate by going after the United States and Israel, neither of which are signatories to the Rome Statute. Furthermore, by launching the investigation into Israeli “war crimes” she had to break the ICC’s own rules by asserting the existence of a Palestinian state when there is legally no such thing.
These are just some of the steps the Biden administration has taken during its first few months, without a single quid pro quo from the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership, while pocketing all the goodies from the United States, is still involved daily in incitement to violence against Israelis, Americans and Jews; glorifies terror; and has not rescinded its “pay for slay” terror incentivization program.
What’s more, the Palestinian Authority has not once said it is interested in returning to negotiations. The P.A. understands very well that it has only to ask for incentives, and it will receive.
The Palestinians’ latest ask was revealed at the recent J Street lobby conference when P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas called on the Biden administration to revoke a U.S. law that deems the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its affiliates a terror group. Abbas argued that the law is now irrelevant as Israel and the PLO have recognized each other.
This is certainly up for question if one reads the propaganda coming out of the P.A. Certainly, no P.A. functionary has ever dared proclaim Israel the ancestral home of the Jewish people.
In fact, according to Palestinian Media Watch, a third of the 36 political parties that will run in May’s scheduled Palestinian elections express their rejection of Israel’s right to exist by including in their logos the P.A. map of “Palestine” that erases all of the State of Israel.
Additionally, in March, a P.A. TV program cited the PLO Charter representing the destruction of Israel as “self-defense,” hiding that it was supposed to have been amended, and broadcast sections of the charter calling for Israel’s destruction, saying Israel exists on Palestinians’ “stolen homeland.”
Surely, the Biden administration can make some progress in bringing the desperate P.A. to at least make gestures towards peace—specifically, by discouraging Palestinians’ continued violent rejectionism. Indeed, the United States should make concessions only when the Palestinians have demonstrated that they are serious about recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, ceasing their “pay for slay” program and ending its incessant incitement to hate Jews.
Biden supporters—whether independents or Republicans, but especially from the Democratic Party—should be pushing the White House and their congressional representatives to stop indulging the Palestinians’ intransigence. Providing economic handouts and diplomatic gifts to the Palestinians without any demands of reciprocity has never worked.
Rather, the reason the conflict continues is that the Palestinians understand that they can maintain their international welfare funding without moving an inch, and they have refused to change their demands and behavior for almost 30 years.
Those voters who claim to support Israel and believed that Biden’s pre-election promises should now be holding him to account. They should be saying loud and clear to their representatives and senators that enough is enough. This is not the way to make peace, and this is not the way to treat an ally. The anti-Israel measures should stop immediately, starting with a denial of Abbas’s request that the PLO lose its terrorist designation.
Above all, Americans should demand that the Biden administration reveal what facts convince it that the dictatorial (and bankrupt) P.A.—and its bitter terrorist enemy, Hamas—can realistically form a state. They should tell us why it’s a wise investment to funnel American taxpayer dollars to corrupt Palestinian and United Nations apparatchiks, who for decades have made zero concessions towards peace with Israel.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.