EJJP Lobbies President Elect Biden to Rescind Donald Trump’s Anti-Palestinian Measures

On 28 January 2021, European Jews for a Just Peace and Peace Now jointly wrote to President Biden, urging him to continue undoing the grossly unfair measures ex-President trump took against the Palestinains.

President Joe Biden
28 January 2021

cc. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

Dear Mr. Biden,

We are writing to you about the grossly unjust and ill-advised measures that Donald Trump’s administration took in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. They amounted to helping Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in his attempts to legitimise Israel’s illegal behaviour and to extinguish the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

We know you are a decent and pragmatic man, and we urge you to retract all these measures. Taken together, and beyond the specific nature of each measure, retractions will reinstate America’s standing as a primary support for international law and the rules-based international order. Your Acting Ambassador to the United Nations has already announced the reinstatement of Palestinian diplomatic missions and of major financial aid, for which we thank you.

The list is long:

First and foremost, publicly retract the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan. Not only is it vicious and ignorant of history, it would also be rightly unacceptable to any conceivable Palestinian leadership. Leading Democratic Congressmen, many of them Jewish, denounced it in the strongest terms.

Reinstate the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Mission in Washington. This will reinstate America?s respect for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Reinstate the vital American financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority.

Reinstate the contributions to UNRWA. This would be a clear rejection of President Trump’s fallacious claim that the children and grandchildren of the original refugees do not, themselves, have refugee status.

Retract American acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israeli sovereignty over any part of the heights can only be the result of negotiations between Israel and Syria.

Reopen the American Consulate in East Jerusalem to conduct American relations with the Palestinian Authority directly, restoring its independence of the Embassy, which will restore American support for Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem.

Consider moving the American Embassy back to Tel Aviv, despite the indication that it would not be done. Undoing the move to Jerusalem would be the best possible signal that the Trump era of ignoring UN resolutions is over.

Rescind the State Department press release instigated by Secretary of Sate Pompeo,’Identifying organisations engaged in antisemitic activities’. This equates anti-Zionism and BDS with antisemitism. The assertion is illogical and ahistorical.

Zionism is the ideology of Jewish territorial self-determination. It requires control over territory and therefore cannot be considered a necessary part of being Jewish. Moreover, the great majority of the indigenous population of the particular territory which Zionists sought to control Palestine -were not Jewish, and did not agree to Zionists taking over any part of it. They have been disenfranchised by Zionism. Therefore, for both the general and the specific reasons, people have the right to an opinion about Zionism, whether that opinion is supportive or unsupportive.

There have now been 15 Court rulings in the US, the UK and Europe that BDS advocacy is not antisemitic and is therefore a legal activity. The reasoning is clear: BDS is not discriminatory against Jews because it concerns the policies of the Israeli government, whose actions are open to protest as are those of any government.

Rescinding the press release will restore people?s confidence that the United States is not trying to curtail free speech in relation to Israel.

We urge you, with Secretary of Sate Blinken. to make it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the settlement expansions announced in the past six months will not be tolerated. They were obviously announced in the hope that President Trump?s tacit approval would allow Israel to press ahead with them even if he lost the election. Some are in very sensitive locations that would frustrate the possibility of an independent Palestinian state if they went ahead. State Department staff will be well aware of them.

Finally, we urge you and Secretary of State Blinken to build on Security Council Resolution 2334, which President Obama ushered into life by abstaining in the Security Council vote in the last days of his administration. That was a welcome, if belated, recognition that no right-wing Israeli government will ever voluntarily negotiate to end the occupation Now is the time to add teeth to 2334 and apply tangible diplomatic and economic pressure on the Israeli government to allow the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.

Yours sincerely,

Dror Feiler, Chair, European Jews for a Just Peace
Shaqued Morag, Executive Director, Peace Now