Biden’s balancing act in the Middle East has a problem: Israel

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Palestinian advocates say President Joe Biden is not doing enough to increase the pressure on Israel. (credit: Nic Antaya / Getty Images)
In an interview, Israel’s interior minister dismisses U.S. plans to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem and downplays reports of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

By Nahal Toosi  | Politico | Nov 19, 2021

Palestinian advocates say Biden is not doing enough to increase the pressure on Israel, especially if he is serious about seeking a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict — something Trump said he could live without.

Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden and his aides began using a new talking point when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — part of an effort to rebalance a U.S. policy the previous U.S. administration had skewed heavily to favor Israel.

“Israelis and Palestinians,” the phrase usually goes, “deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security, and prosperity.”

In recent weeks, however, a series of Israeli actions against Palestinians have exacerbated tensions with the Biden administration while testing how serious the U.S. president is about respecting the rights of everyone in the conflict.

And thanks to the pro-Israel policies adopted under former President Donald Trump, Biden is in some cases limited in how he can respond.

The Israeli actions range from designating several Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist” organizations to resisting Biden’s plans to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem that would engage with Palestinians. Renewed Israeli settler violence against Palestinians as well as Israeli plans to build more settlements in the West Bank have further frustrated the Biden team. The United States, meanwhile, has rankled Israel by imposing sanctions on an Israeli firm whose technology has been used to monitor and harass dissidents and others — including Palestinians.

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