Former Vice President Joe Biden promised Tuesday to reverse several measures taken by President Donald Trump against the Palestinian Authority due in part to its support for terrorism and rejection of negotiations.
In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Biden said: “I will reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to re-open the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump Administration stopped.”
Biden apparently did not provide any concessions he would expect from the Palestinians in return.
Instead, Biden claimed that reversing Trump’s policies would revive dialogue with the Palestinians toward a two-state solution. But the Obama/Biden administration made no progress toward a two-state solution in eight years, with generous U.S. funding in place and a deliberate policy of “distancing” the U.S. from Israel.
Moreover, Biden failed to mention the reasons the Trump administration took those measures against the Palestinian Authority.
The “decades-long economic and security assistance” was halted for several reasons, one of which was that the Palestinian Authority persists in paying stipends to the families of jailed or dead terrorists. For example, in 2018, President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act — named for an American veteran killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in 2016. The law which bars the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to support the Palestinian Authority as long as it continues to reward terror. (Biden did not explain how he would repeal that legislation.)
Another reason the U.S. cut aid was the Palestinians’ continued refusal to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel — a refusal that persisted throughout the Obama years, even with lavish American funding flowing.
Trump tweeted in 2018:
It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
…peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
The White House also cut $200 million in funding to the Palestinian Authority in 2018 because of the role that the Hamas terror group plays in controlling the Gaza Strip. And Trump drastically cut the aid that the U.S. gives to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a special organization that caters specifically to Palestinian “refugees” from Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 — started by Palestinians and surrounding Arab states — and their descendants.
UNRWA camps have often encouraged Palestinian terror and anti-Israel indoctrination. Critics also say that UNRWA also perpetuates the Palestinian refugee issue, rather than allowing refugees to be absorbed by other countries, as Israel had absorbed Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
The U.S. consulate in “East Jerusalem” was not even in “East Jerusalem,” but in the Western part of the city, near downtown, on the Israeli side of the 1949 armistice line (also known as the 1967 border). Its old functions still exist, and are handled by the U.S. embassy — of which the old consulate building is now an annex.
(Biden has said he would not move the U.S. embassy back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, though he also said it should not have been moved — despite commitments by every U.S. president since Bill Clinton to do so.)
Finally, the Trump administration closed the Washington, DC, office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 2018 because, as the Jerusalem Post noted at the time, “it was congressionally obligated to close the diplomatic facility should Palestinian officials target Israel at the International Criminal Court” (ICC). The Trump administration was obligated by law to close the office once Palestinians announced plans to take Israeli officials to the ICC. The fact that the Palestinians rejected peace talks was an additional reason for the closure.
In sum, Joe Biden would give Palestinians hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars per year without any commitment to stop rewarding terrorism or to renew negotiations. He would restore the U.S. Consulate in West Jerusalem without any concessions from the Palestinians, and reopen the PLO office in Washington in defiance of U.S. law. His stance on restoring funding also implies the repeal of the Taylor Force Act, which is not only meant to protect Israelis but to deter and punish Palestinian terrorists for attacks on Americans.
Biden claims that these concessions to appease the Palestinians would encourage negotiations toward a two-state solutions. But eight years of concessions under the Obama administration failed to achieve that goal.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.