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The Financial Express

Palestine: Trump ghost blurs Biden bid

| Updated: April 13, 2021 22:11:48


Palestine: Trump ghost blurs Biden bid

US President Donald Trump has left the world scenario, leaving many a fallout behind. In his turbulent exit millions of people have heaved sighs of relief. But Trump has finally deserted the American presidency leaving many a politico-economic and climatic complication around the world.

Being the 'most powerful person' in the world, he could have contributed a lot to the enhancement of global peace. Instead, he emerged as a spoiler. Mostly as part of a jingoistic stratagem, he blocked all roads to world peace and harmony. Prominent of them are the hindrances he created to the attempts to address the Palestinian deadlock. Started tentatively by his predecessor Barak Obama, materialising a 2-state (Israel and Palestine) solution, it eventually fell through. In fact, Donald Trump trod a crooked path of killing the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Apart from recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel, he encouraged Tel Aviv to expand the areas of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Global current affairs specialists spent little time. They viewed the first act of the former US President as the last nail driven on the coffin of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Protests organised by the Palestinian villagers were brutally crushed by the Israeli Army and security forces.

The murky developments that took place in the greater Palestinian-Israeli relations and some evil measures passed off as US government decisions have, in fact, tied the hands of the current US President Joe Biden. A trouble-shooting and peace-oriented president as he is, Biden focused on a permanent rapprochement with the Palestinians as one of his preliminary tasks. Under the ambit of it, the President got down to a major step: executing the plan to reopen the Palestinians' diplomatic mission in Washington DC. But to his great dismay, Biden found that the step could be obstructed by a law hostile to the Palestinian Authority. The law, passed during Donald Trump's tenure, defines Palestinian officials as being subject to US anti-terror lawsuits.

The Biden administration had been expecting to mend relations with the Palestinians after a headlong plunge in the US-Palestinian ties during the term of the Trump government. The face-off closed the PLO's Washington office in 2018. It also stopped the flow of millions of dollars in aid to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

What's worse, under an anti-terror amendment passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump in 2019, the Palestinian officials would be liable for $655.5 million in penalties against them in US courts if they opened an office in the US. What a mindless affront to the decades-long US-PLO peace process and an act filled with brazen vengefulness!

Meanwhile, these hostilities on the part of the Trump administration touched off a new wave of attacks on the Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. By attacking Israeli soldiers with whatever lethal weapons they could lay their hands on, the Palestinians of all ages in effect got engaged in another Intifada. As a corollary, the whole West Bank reemerged as a flashpoint. Gunning down unarmed Palestinian assemblages, mortar-shelling of Palestinian villages, the heart-piercing wails of bereaved mothers and wives of those killed brutally and mourning processions became the order of the day. As a mark of protest, Fridays were declared as the 'days of rage' by the West Bank Palestinians.

President Joe Biden has sought to bring about a radical change in the unwarranted developments in the region precipitated by the Trump administration. According to US watchers, the President may have to grapple with the impediments created by his predecessor.

Sources close to Biden administration are confident that the President shall overcome the unexpected bottlenecks. They are hopeful that it is during President Biden's time that the Palestinian deadlock will undergo some lasting positive changes. Speaking at the United Nations Security Council on January 26, Acting US UN envoy Richard Mills said Washington "intended to take steps to reopen diplomatic missions that were closed for the last US administration",without giving a timeline. It cannot be denied that the legal hurdles underscore the range of challenges Biden may have to face in restoring ties with the Palestinians and reversing actions taken by Trump, who overturned the longtime US Middle East policy. It resulted in a series of pro-Israel steps including ending US opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Over the last decade, the Palestinians reposed a lot of confidence in the US. They believed, following so many Arab-Israel peace initiatives taken by different US administrations, Washington this time must be poised to bring the two sides at a negotiation table to thrash out a permanent settlement. Apart from the Palestinians, the regional stakeholders also felt the need for an end to the nearly a century-long hostilities. But the former President Donald Trump, while championing his pro-Israel policy, has allegedly discredited the longtime US role as chief mediator in the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. This development has considerably paled the chances of a peace deal leading to a Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied territory. Analysts have rightly observed that in the post-Cold War era, there was no pragmatic alternative to ending the Israeli-Palestinian mistrust.

Despite the unexpected rebuffs the Biden administration had to undergo regarding reopening of the Palestinian peace process, it has reasons to feel upbeat. Palestinian leaders have welcomed Biden's pledges of reaching peace with them. But an intractable Trump had made Biden's planned objectives hard to materialise. The mercurial ex-president may have read in advance Biden's plans on Palestine.

As a result, although the President can reverse some Trump steps by applying executive orders, some will require laws passed by Congress and an amendment. This might prove a daunting task for the US President to ensure a peaceful ambience in the West Bank. Moreover, a full-scale resurgent Palestinian militancy may jeopardise everything.

 

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