(A7) This coming week, President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Israel as part of a larger tour of the Middle East.
The presidential visit, planned several months ago, is scheduled to proceed despite the dissolution of the Israeli government and the onset of elections – a conspicuous departure from US policy reiterated by President Obama under similar circumstances in 2015: “I’m declining to meet with [Prime Minister Netanyahu] simply because our general policy is we don’t meet with any world leader … weeks before their elections,” Obama explained.
According to media reports, Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid intends to welcome President Biden with a number of “gestures” that the US administration has requested as a means of “improving the atmosphere” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Biden Administration has announced its intention to re-open the consular building in eastern Jerusalem that was shut down during the Trump Administration, when the US Embassy was relocated to Israel’s capital.
The new-old diplomatic installation is slated to serve Arabs only – and would, in everything but name – be an embassy to Palestine: The US recently upgraded the status of the Office for Palestinian Affairs, restructuring the chain of command and removing it from the auspices of the US Embassy in Israel.
This unit, unlike any other in the world, now operates in the center of western Jerusalem; moving it to a dedicated eastern Jerusalem facility would essentially re-divide Jerusalem – constituting a violation of US law, Israeli law and international diplomatic protocol.
In addition, President Biden has scheduled a first-of-its-kind visit to eastern Jerusalem, an official visit that has not been coordinated through normal diplomatic channels and will which not be accompanied or attended by representatives of the State of Israel. A visit of this kind constitutes a violation of US law, which recognizes Jerusalem – in its entirety – as the united capital of Israel, and the government of Israel as the sole recognized sovereign in the city.
The third “gesture” sought by the Biden Administration would see Palestinian Authority Police at Israel’s eastern border: The Biden Administration has asked Israel to allow an official PA presence at the Allenby Crossing, the international border between Israel and Jordan and the gateway to Israel’s Jordan Valley. Reports are that Interim Prime Minister Lapid intends to acquiesce – despite the danger to Israel’s security and the shadow this would cast on Israeli sovereignty.
Recently, a group of Zionist organizations in Israel and abroad, including Regavim, the Bithonistim, The Sovereignty Movement, Ad Kan, the ZOA, Americans for a Safe Israel and Im Tirtzu, joined forces in a campaign calling on the US administration to refrain from exploiting Israel’s unstable political environment to extract far-reaching concessions that would be detrimental to Israel’s vital interests. The campaign also calls on the Israeli government and Interim Prime Minister Lapid not to sell out Israel’s security and sovereignty.
Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, summed up the challenge: “Lapid is expecting a warm embrace from Biden, just like the one he squeezed out of the President of France a few days ago. But the hugs and smiling photo-ops will cost us dearly, and are a cynical exploitation of Israel’s political situation. The three “good will gestures” Lapid is planning to make in order to give Biden a soft landing on his Middle East junket are drastic, historic concessions that will harm Israel’s security and even worse, may be construed as a recognition of future borders of a Palestinian state.”
“I call on Shaked, Saar, Elkin and Kahana, who put Lapid in the Prime Minister’s Office, to take whatever steps are necessary – immediately – to prevent the caretaker prime minister and his lame duck government from dealing a fatal blow to Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley in exchange for photographs of hugs and smiles with the President of the United States.