Palestinians Rooting for Biden to Reverse Trump Mideast Policies

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks last month during a leadership meeting to discuss the planned Israeli planned annexation. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

Palestinian leaders hope Democrat Joe Biden will tone down Washington’s pro-Israel policies if he becomes U.S. president, and Palestinian-Americans have been pressing his campaign for a change, sources familiar with the efforts said.

So far, their efforts have had little impact, they said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has recognized Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy to the city and made peace proposals envisaging Israeli sovereignty over parts of Yehudah and Shomron.

President Trump’s moves — including aid cuts to the Palestinian Authority– have prompted Palestinian officials to sever ties with Washington.

“If Mr. Biden (is) elected in November, we hope that it will be a totally different dynamic,” PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said last week during a virtual conference with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Biden is the presumptive Democratic challenger in November’s election. He is on record as challenging plans by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend sovereignty in Yehudah and Shomron and the Jordan Valley.

“Biden opposes any unilateral action by either side that makes the prospects of a two-state solution less likely – including annexation, which Biden opposes now, and would continue to oppose as President,” campaign spokesman Michael Gwin said in a statement for Reuters.

Gwin did not address what action Biden might take if he were president and Israel carried out annexation plans.

Buoyed by support from progressives in the Democratic party, Palestinian diaspora activists want Biden to take a more critical look at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

More than 120 prominent Palestinian-Americans have signed a “Statement of Principles” that they say determine their community’s support for candidates for federal office.

They include making aid to Israel conditional on it ending “practices that violate Palestinian rights and contravene international law” and revoking any potential U.S. recognition of Israeli annexations.

“We want to see Biden embrace the party’s progressives, who have recognized the shared struggle between Palestinians living under military occupation, and black and brown Americans who face police brutality, systemic racism and injustice,” said Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August.

Those positions have failed to gain traction with Biden’s team, three people familiar with the campaign’s thinking said.

“The progressives want a full-throttle platform change — a pro-Palestinian flank, an anti-annexation flank — but there just isn’t appetite in the campaign so far,” one of the sources said.