How will US Biden deal with Trump’s legacy in the Middle East and Palestinian file in particular?

Dr. Ayman Ibrahim AL-Regeb

United States (US) President Donald Trump left a heavy legacy to his elected successor, Joe Biden, as Trump led during his reign a big chaos in the world and the Arab region in particular. He distorted the US image in the world in a way revealed it as a country using bullying, thus, President-elect Joe Biden has to face a long list of Challenges and to undertake a difficult process to reshape the US relations with many countries.

US ties with China are the first and biggest challenge for Biden although it may not take much time to improve. Iranian file also represents a trouble for the future president as it has returned to accumulate enriched nuclear fuel again.

As for Turkey, it went out of the NATO rules and Washington’s demands and bought the S-400 missile system from Russia while the Middle East crisis whose inflames increased by the US President whose mandate is almost over.

However, President-elect Joe Biden’s political past and his work as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the US Senate and Vice President in the Barack Obama administration has inevitably allowed him to understand the US international affairs so that he can deal with these files.

Trump ruled for 4 years during which he erased much of the political legacy of former US President Barack Obama. In 2020, Barack Obama’s vice president has been elected to take, thus, erasing much of Donald Trump’s political legacy and restoring as far as  possiblefrom Barack Obama’s legacy internally and externally will be on the top of his priorities.

As for the Arabs and the region, Joe Biden disclosed his intention to follow the same approach of Barack Obama regarding the Palestinian issue by considering the two-state solution and working to stop annexation projects in the West Bank.

 

US President-elect Joe Biden will not be able to get the United States embassy back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and will not change his vision of a firm commitment to preserve Israel’s security but the Deal of the Century may be subject to amendment so that they can implement it.

At the beginning of last year, Donald Trump announced the Deal of the Century to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands would remain, imposing on the Arabs peace accompanied by incentives and economic aid to the Palestinians and promises of settling the Palestinian refugees in asylum countries without recourse to the two-state solution provided by the Oslo Agreement between Palestinians and Israelis and approved by all international institutions.

Undoubtedly, President Joe Biden will reverse the deal of the century, which he condemned on more than one occasion, and will return to the principle of the two-state solution that the United States has adopted for many years.

The outgoing US President Donald Trump also sought to push Gulf states to normalize not only with Israel but with Netanyahuand his ambitions to cancel any Palestinian desire for statehood as well. Actually, it was part of chaos because normalization took place without any real costs while and the Gulf motive for it was to acquire the US F-35 warplanes and to gain protection from the US in the event of a confrontation with Iran.

Today, the scene is completely different, and if normalization is a price for protection, President Joe Biden’s administration, in case it remains enthusiastic about it, will not be with the same rush in terms of providing protection to the Gulf States.

 The stance of the outgoing US President Donald Trump’s administration on the Palestinian issue was deeply unjust and unfair to historical rights

The relationship between the official Palestinian leadership and Trump administration has been accompanied with a state of tension due to its highly biased policies in favor of Israel, his complete disregard for Palestinian rights, and his provocative measures including the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the proposal of the Century Deal that denies the Palestinian rights and support for the plan of annexing the settlements and the Jordan Valley. Practically, the tension in the relations between the two sides translated into punitive measures implemented by Trump administration against the authority in terms of stopping direct aid, closing the Palestinian Liberty Organization (PLO) representative offices in Washington, and stopping the United States’ allocations to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for which the US was the biggest and first supporter for many years.

The Palestinians hope that Biden administration adopt a different vision for their cause, re-present the Palestinian state and criminalize settlement and annexation of lands.

There are many visions that are likely to affect the attitude of the US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration towards many files related to the Palestinian issue, despite the traditional US bias with Israeli views, the most important of which is that the Democrats want to return to the negotiating track and to adopt less biased situations towards the final solution files, within the ceiling of the US vision.

Democrats are aware of the difficulty of getting to the negotiation track without handling the crisis of the relationship with the Palestinian Authority, which was caused by Trump’s policies.

The Democrats ’visions may affect President Joe Biden’s attitudes and his administration’s behavior towards the Palestinian issue during the next stage. It can be expected that President Joe Biden’s administration will adopt political orientations close to those adopted by the Democrats during the Obama era, and that it seeks to end the state of estrangement, reduce the level of tension and resume relations with The Palestinian Authority along with the required diplomatic mobility, the restoration of US aid to the authority and the opening of the PLO offices that were closed by the Donald Trump administration in the United States. However, it is expected that the Joe Biden administration will link these measures with the return of the Palestinian Authority to the negotiation track.

It is not clear until the moment how the expected trends of the Joe Biden administration will affect the openness to the Palestinian Authority and its desire to resume the negotiation track on the behavior of the US administration towards Hamas on the one hand and on the behavior of the Palestinian Authority towards the reconciliation file, which has witnessed a breakthrough in recent months due to the hard-line trends of Donald Trump towards the Palestinian Authority and cause on the other hand.

Meanwhile, there is an expectation It is expected that the administration of President Joe Biden will adopt the same traditional position of the US, which did not differ much in the Trump era than during the Obama era, by continuing to deal with Hamas at the official level as a terrorist movement that uses violence to achieve its political goals, while allowing contact with it politically away from the official side, as was the case during the Obama era, taking into account that Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Therefore, there is a special vision for the Democrats while dealing with political Islam as it was during the era of President Barack Obama and this will be reflected on the relation of President Joe Biden’s administration with Hamas and on some specifics related to the sensitivity of the Palestinian situation.

In light of this scene, we may find that the Palestinian Authority leadership tends to wait and calm down the path of Palestinian reconciliation until the prospects of returning to the path of negotiations become clear and to identify the directions of the new US administration regarding the Palestinian issue files, while not closing the reconciliation file completely and leaving the door ajar and contacting with all sides.

It is true that Biden administration may be heavily preoccupied with internal files, but it will show its keenness to overcome the crisis of the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and to seek for drawing it back into the path of negotiations, away from the rush in connection with Hamas, unless it receives guarantees that the relationship with Hamas can positively influence its political position.

 The Israeli occupation government will, in the near future, avoid taking large, provocative measures in terms of the annexation plan and will slow the pace of settlement activity down.

In this regard, after the Palestinian Authority announced the return of the security coordination file with the Israeli side and the return of relations to what they were before the nineteenth of last May, the Israeli occupation government may, in the near future, avoid taking major provocative measures, in terms of implementing the annexation plan and increasing the pace of settlement operations; This is for two important considerations, firstly : the unwillingness to embarrass the Arab countries that normalized relations with them, and to encourage more Arab countries to take similar steps, secondly, the unwillingness to escalate and strain the relationship with the new US administration early, while waiting for the US administration to move the political file, especially with the desire of some Arab countries to sponsor a new round of negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to ease the tension and get state of calm back, as happened during Obama’s rule and the Kingdom of Jordan’s sponsorship of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in 2014 before they were finally halted in April of the same year.

Abstract:

The upcoming period can be dubbed as the waiting period if the Israeli government collapses and the Israeli Knesset is dissolved and a fourth round of elections is scheduled, which may be in March. Thus, the official Palestinian Authority, which presented its last paper without taking any advantage in return, with restoration of the relationship with the Israeli side without any significant change at the political and field level should

1- Keep the reconciliation efforts with the Palestinian factions going while showing more concern for their success, adopting flexible positions to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way, and turning them into practical programs that are scheduled and enforced.

2- Call on the new US administration to respect the will of the people and their right of liberation, independence and self-determination, to adopt positive, rational and balanced policies towards the various issues of the region, in a way that contribute to its stability, to guarantee that any upcoming political process must be based on the principle of the two-state solution and to protect the rights of the Palestinian people as stipulated in international resolutions.

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