ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU MEETS US SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN ON JANUARY 30, 2023. (PHOTO: ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER OFFICE VIA APA IMAGES)
On Monday, January 30, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Jerusalem and delivered a speech alongside the re-elected Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The arrival of the secretary of state comes amid two landmark moments that took place last week. The first was the killing of 10 Palestinians during an Israeli army invasion of the Jenin refugee camp on January 26, which eyewitnesses called a “massacre.” The second was a guerrilla shooting operation undertaken by 21-year-old Khairi Alkam in the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Yaacov located in East Jerusalem, where six Israeli settlers and one Ukrainian national were killed.
“We want to make sure that there’s an environment in which we can…create the conditions where we can start to restore a sense of security for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the secretary of state affirmed at a press conference following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where the Biden official reiterated calls for a two-state solution.
For Palestinians, the surge in Israeli attacks on Palestinians is making any restoration of security seem impossible, and Blinken’s message only reflected the biased approach the Biden Administration is taking on the ground. “The American response was and remains biased towards the occupation,” Ubai Aboudi, Executive Director at Bisan Center for Research and Development, told Mondoweiss.
“When the U.S. draws an equivalence between the butcher and the butchered, then it is necessarily on the side of the butcher,” Aboudi said.
“We are still waiting on the issue of Shireen [Abu Akleh], and we doubt there has been accountability on the issue of assassinating a well-known journalist who is also an American citizen, likewise in the case of Omar Assad,” Aboudi said, recalling the slain Palestinian-Americans killed last year along with 230 others.
Abu Akleh and Assad, an 80-year-old Palestinian-American who suffered a heart attack as he was being held up by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank last year, were American citizens, and yet neither received the required legal action for holding their killers accountable.
Blinken also heralded the normalization efforts of the Biden and Trump administrations to increase Israeli diplomatic, military, and economic ties across the region.
“As we advance Israel’s integration,” the secretary of state said, “we can do so in ways that improve the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Many Palestinians are still waiting for the Biden administration to overturn several of the policies of the Trump administration, including moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The continuity between U.S. administrations only furthers the view that American foreign policy supports strengthened and sustained Israeli settler expansion and violence.
“Blinken’s message is clear in its highlight,” Palestinian official and director of monitoring settlement activity in the West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Mondoweiss. “There is no pressure on Israel to change its practices.”
While some thought the inauguration of the new far-right Israeli government would shift U.S. policy, Blinken’s visit would seem to indicate it will not.
“The US may have a perspective on the form of the Israeli government,” Daghlas noted about the new Israeli government, “but that’s internal [Israeli] issues which do not speak to Palestinians and their rights.”
One other focus of the trip is to increase bilateral relations between the United States and Israel, of which includes the Visa Waiver program which would allow Israeli citizens to enter the USA without prior application for visas.
The US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, released a new video in coordination with Blinken’s trip which explained Israeli movement towards joining the visa waiver program. Nides concluded his message on a note which signals a unified American-Israeli fraternity “as we like to say at the embassy, Blue is Blue.”
The ambassador did make a point of American passport holders to also be able to travel freely to Israel, “including Palestinian-Americans” but only as American passport holders.
Yet, even in the case of citizenship security, the American position continues to showcase a discriminatory response towards Palestinians.
Blinken is scheduled to meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.