Joe Biden has expended a lot of effort to avoid taking Benjamin Netanyahu at his word.
The Israeli prime minister has spent his political life opposing a Palestinian state and acting accordingly. And although Biden has trotted out a rote commitment to the two-state solution when confronted with a crisis in the Middle East, there was barely a murmur from the White House as Netanyahu’s far-right government ramped up creeping colonisation of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and hardened its domination of the Palestinians who live there.
So last week’s pronouncement by Netanyahu that there will be no Palestinian state, and that he intends to perpetuate Israel’s brand of apartheid through permanent military control of the West Bank, was no great revelation to Washington. The timing, however, means that this time it cannot be so easily shunted aside.
One effect of the Hamas attack on 7 October has been to push the Palestinian question back into the diplomatic spotlight after the US and its allies all but abandoned any real attempt to resolve the conflict in recent years and consigned it to the shadows.
During Netanyahu’s long tenure as prime minister of Israel, politicians in Washington, Brussels and London have continued to pay occasional lip service to two states but in talking to them privately it often seemed that they had concluded that the Palestinians were a defeated people – and so colluded in the Palestinians’ oppression by leaving Netanyahu to get on with his land grab. [Continue reading…]