A new administration has taken over Washington with talk of justice, respect and diversity. However, when it comes to Israel-Palestine the news isn’t so encouraging.
Joe Biden’s foreign policy team says it wants to return to the Iran deal, but reassures the Israel lobby that that won’t happen any time soon, and when it comes to actual Palestinian rights or freedom (the “peace process”), it clearly wants as little friction with the Israeli government and Israel’s friends in Washington as possible. I watched all 4-1/2 hours of Tony Blinken’s testimony to Senate Foreign Relations (help!), and he never mentioned occupation, Palestinian human rights, or even settlements.
And Blinken spent a lot of time affirming Donald Trump’s policies in Israel! Notably in his very respectful exchanges with Senator Ted Cruz, who you’d think Blinken might treat with some crust because he tried to deny Biden’s victory.
Cruz: A final question because my time has expired, Do you agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and do you commit that the United States will keep our embassy there?
Blinken: Yes and Yes.
Normalization and the peace process
Blinken repeatedly praised Trump policy on normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan as opening a pathway to Palestinian peace.
“I think there are a number of things from where I sat that the Trump administration did beyond our borders that I would applaud…. The Abraham Accords, absolutely… [T]he work that was done to push forward on normalization with Israel, I applaud. It makes Israel safer, it makes the region safer, it’s a good thing. I would hope we can build on that.“
No wonder South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called Blinken an “outstanding choice.” No wonder Blinken played ball with Graham:
Graham: Do you still consider Iran the largest state sponsor of terrorism?
Blinken: I do.
Graham: Do you consider Israel a racist nation?
Blinken: I do not.
Graham: Good start!
The two men were responding indirectly to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who said that morning on Democracy Now!