Sami Hamdi: Biden Following Trump’s Footsteps in Palestine Policy
TEHRAN (FNA)- Sami Hamdi, journalist and political analyst, says Biden’s “reset” policy towards Palestine will not change the US-Palestine policy under former US president.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Hamdi said, “The difference is in the intensity and pace of expansion. Where Trump closed the PLO office in Washington and laid decades-old US policy on Israel to bear without any ‘make-up’, Biden will return to the premise of negotiations... Irrespective of the fact that these negotiations will carry little in terms of substance, they will nevertheless temper the harder rhetoric on the issue that Trump facilitated with his overbearing pursuit of the ‘Deal of the Century’.”
Sami Hamdi is a geopolitical risk consultant. He has extensive experience in the West Asian and North African region, having been a television reporter and talk-show host for over a decade. Hamdi is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: With Biden's “reset” policy with Palestine, and ICC’s ruling to probe Israeli war crimes in Palestine, do you believe Israel is facing international opposition over the Palestinian Cause, more than before?
A: I think it is important to stress what Biden means by a “reset” when it comes to Palestine. In real terms, there is little difference in Biden’s policy in comparison to Trump in so far as the crux of the Palestine issue is concerned (Israel’s expansion and increasing territorial gains). The difference is in the intensity and pace of expansion. Where Trump closed the PLO office in Washington and laid decades-old US policy on Israel to bear without any ‘make-up’, Biden will return to the premise of negotiations. Irrespective of the fact that these negotiations will carry little in terms of substance, they will nevertheless temper the harder rhetoric on the issue that Trump facilitated with his overbearing pursuit of the ‘Deal of the Century’.
Q: What reaction do you think Israel will show towards such international developments?
A: Israel remains in the ascendancy in so far as the Palestine issue is concerned. It continues to expand and is mulling the annexation of the West Bank. The delay in the annexation is not due to international pressure, but rather Israeli concerns over the implications for the demographics of Israel if such a large Arab contingent is absorbed into the state. Despite reported tensions between Tel Aviv and Washington, there is no indication in Israel that US will take any tangible or active steps to prevent any unilateral decision by Tel Aviv to continue infringing on Palestine. Former Qatari Prime Minister told France 24 in late 2018 that Israel is seen as the key to the Congress and the White House. With regional actors keen to win over Washington in order to expand on their own ambitions, Israel is becoming more strategically ‘relevant’.
Q: Do you believe such international developments will affect the UAE, Bahrain and other countries which are signatories to the Abraham Accords?
A: Arabia’s Mohamed Bin Salman escaped international sanctions for his implication in the murder of former government advisor Jamal Khashoggi. There have also been reports that Tel Aviv lobbied heavily on his behalf. The UAE has, to date, escaped any accountability for its role in Libya or Yemen. Sudan has begun to see the return of international companies looking to invest after Khartoum removed Islam from its constitution and legislative processes, and normalized ties with Israel. In so far as these countries are concerned, there is a dark sense that there have been immediate ‘benefits’ to normalization.
Moreover, it is important to stress that normalization is only possible through authoritarian measures. Given popular rejection to normalization, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Sudan have had to adopt strict measures of stifling opposition, arbitrary imprisonment and arrest, and threats in order to suffocate popular sentiment that is still reeling from the manner in which Palestine has been ‘betrayed’ by Arab leaders. Normalization will work and last so long as dictatorship and authoritarianism remain, and as long as democracy remains elusive for Arab populations.