President Joe Biden and his aides have signaled that they believe stepping back from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to focus on more direct threats to America is in the U.S. national interest.
But, as an outcry in Congress and beyond over an escalating, bloody crisis in Jerusalem shows, walking away may not be in Biden’s political interest.
Weeks of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians over access to holy sites and the potential eviction of several Palestinian families from east Jerusalem exploded Monday, leaving more than 300 Palestinians hurt, according to media reports. That’s on top of other Palestinians and Israeli security officials hurt in earlier recent clashes.
As the situation spiraled, the Biden administration has publicly weighed in over the past three days with phone calls and official statements, after weeks of private engagement. The recent public moves may have helped nudge Israel into taking steps to defuse tensions, such as delaying the potential evictions and changing the route of a Jerusalem Day parade of nationalist Israelis on Monday.
But activists, analysts and several of Biden’s fellow Democrats in Congress — including progressive favorites Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — say the administration should do more. Some said its public reaction so far has been too little, too late, too quiet and too equivocal for a crisis that has been brewing for weeks — and of which the administration had ample warning. Israeli officials, meanwhile, defended their government, even to the point where Israel’s ambassador to the United States accused a U.S. lawmaker of Arab descent of stoking terror. [Continue reading…]
As this makes clear, evictions of families in East Jerusalem would violate international law. If the Biden Administration puts the rule of law and human rights at the heart of its foreign policy, this is not a moment for tepid statements.
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) May 9, 2021
The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 8, 2021
.@SecBlinken: When will the US condemn racist violence against Palestinians? Is it your policy to support settlers stealing Palestinian homes & burning their lands? Billions of U.S. taxpayer $ support the racist Netanyahu government & the apartheid state they enforce every year.
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) May 5, 2021