Gershon Baskin
Political and social entrepreneur activist in Israel and Palestine

The Biden-Netanyahu Clash

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are on a collision course, and that is a good development. President Biden has finally come to the understanding that Israel will never have security if the Palestinians do not have freedom and dignity. It seems that he has also come to the conclusion and has conveyed to the Palestinian leaders that they will never have freedom and dignity if the Israel does not have security. Security for Israel is not just having an unlimited supply of US bombs and other weapons, and a veto in the Security Council, it is also having the Palestinian people’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist. While perhaps no other country in the world demands its recognition of its right to exist and Israel did not request this from Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain nor from Morocco, the Palestinian recognition of this is demanded by Israel. It has to do with the reality that none of the Arab states at peace with Israel have ever demanded to replace Israel. “From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free” is a very clear announcement of intentions and with the Jewish peoples 2000-year history of persecution, this less than normal demand should be understandable. Personally, I would not demand it, but I am not representative of the Jewish people in Israel.

The United States votes alone in the Security Council on Resolutions concerning Israel. There are very few countries that are standing with Israel as it wipes out the Gaza Strip turning 85% of his population into homeless and killing tens of thousands of non-combatants. The United States is seen complicit in what many in the world believe to be Israel committing war crimes with US supplied bombs flattening entire neighborhoods and towns in Gaza, burying thousands of women and children under the rubble. It seems that President Biden has lost a significant amount of support from the young people within his own political party. The US election time clock is ticking and it does not look good for President Biden. While most of those who reject Biden’s unwavering support of Israel’s war against Hamas will not vote for Donald Trump, they may simply not vote at all and that does not forbode well for the Biden campaign.

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State used to say quite often regarding the US led Israeli-Palestinian peace process “the parties themselves have to want it more than us”. That is no longer true. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is stretching out beyond the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Attacks against American assets in Iraq, bombings in Syria, the Israel-Lebanon border under flame, and the Houthi attacks from Yemen against international shipping endangers the stability of the world. Iran’s proxies, supported by China and Russia provide the launching pad for a much wider global conflict putting US, NATO and other allies’ interests and assets at risk. The US must demonstrate a much firmer commitment and determination to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the two-states solution, but this time for real!

The Oslo Peace process started initially by the US with the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 that was intended by the convenors and its supporters to conclude with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel based on the June 4, 1967 borders. In 1988 the Palestinian national movement had agreed to accept a Palestinian state in the territories conquered by Israel in the six-days war of June 1967. This was perceived by the Palestinians themselves as an historic compromise to establish their state on 22% of the land of Palestine that they believed all of it belonged to them. They recognized Israel on 78% of the land with the signing of the Declaration of Principles, the first of six agreements in the Oslo Peace process on the White House law in September 1993. They never expected that 30 years later the State of Palestine would not exist and would not be recognized by the United States and most of the other OECD nations. For 30 years the underlying assumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by all of its supporters was the two-states solution. Surprisingly, none of the six-agreement signed by the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Oslo Peace Process ever stated explicitly that this was the solution. There is no mention of the establishment of the State of Palestine in any of the agreements. For thirty long years many of the countries of the world which support the two-states solution still only recognize one of the States – Israel.

There will be no two-states solution under the Israeli leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu. He has spent his entire political career ensuring that the Palestinians will never be free from Israel’s occupation. Netanyahu has to go and that is the obligation of Israelis to get rid of the person who bears more responsibility in Israel than anyone else for the brutal Hamas atrocities of October 7. For most of the past 30 years the United States has been complicit in providing Israel with impunity over the occupation including limiting its own clear opposition to Israel’s settlement building policies by simply labeling it as “an obstacle to peace”. In the waning days of the Obama Administration, the US abstained and did not veto Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 2234 December 2016) which stated: “Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.” The Trump Administration backtracked on this and now it is time for President Biden to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to international law and the illegality of Israeli settlements and the entire Israeli occupation over what should be the State of Palestine.

On 29 November 2012 the State of Palestine was granted non-member observer State status in the UN and as of January 2024, 139 countries have recognized it. The United States is not one of them and in fact the US notified the Palestinians that it would use its veto power in the Security Council to prevent the admission of the State of Palestine as a member state of the United Nations. But now, as part of the US led post-Gaza war strategy, being developed now with Saudi Arabia and others, the State of Palestine must be fully recognized and admitted as a member state of the United Nations making it state number 194 of that international body of the community of nations. Israel’s victory over Hamas can never succeed if the idea of Hamas is not challenged by showing the people of Palestine that they will have freedom and dignity. This step will not resolve the conflict but it will shift the nature of future negotiations. The right of veto on Palestine statehood which has been held by Israel must be removed from the negotiations table and made into a fait accompli. Israel will become a United Nations member state occupying another United Nations member state. Future negotiations will continue to be on borders, border management, security arrangements, Jerusalem, refugees, economic relations, etc. The very asymmetric negotiating table will be slightly leveled and if the table is expanded to include the neighboring states Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia (which is essential) supported by the EU and the United States there will be a much better chance of success. There should no longer be a bilateral Israeli-Palestinian process. The stakes are too high and the Israelis and Palestinians alone should not be entrusted with the fate of the region or the world. The entire region needs more stability, security and a chance for economic prosperity. The United States can want it more than the Israelis and the Palestinians and now is the time to act.

About the Author
The writer is the Middle East Director of ICO - International Communities Organization - a UK based NGO working in Conflict zones with failed peace processes. Baskin is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is also a founding member of “Kol Ezraheiha - Kol Muwanteneiha” (All of the Citizens) political party in Israel.