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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/23/20

Biden or Trump will mean four more years of cheerleading for Israel

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It was not for symbolic or sentimental reasons that Sheldon Adelson, a United States casino magnate and close ally of Israeli prime minster Benjamin Netanyahu, quietly bought the American ambassador's official residence in Tel Aviv this month.

Adelson is one of the main Republican donors to President Donald Trump's re-election campaign. He was also widely seen as the driving force behind Trump's decision two years ago to break a decades-old policy and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The embassy move - violating a long-standing international consensus - served as implicit US recognition of Israel's illegal annexation of Jerusalem, voiding future peace negotiations for a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Now Adelson is grabbing for himself the ambassador's former residence near Tel Aviv before the US presidential election in November. It is his way of ensuring that, if Trump loses, there will be no reversal of the embassy decision.

But in truth, the 87-year-old Adelson could have saved his money.

Joe Biden, the Democratic party challenger to Trump, recently said he had no intention of returning the US embassy to Tel Aviv should he win.

It is simply astonishing that, weeks away from the election, Palestinian-American activists still doubt whether a President Biden would be a notable improvement on Israel-Palestine issues.

Trump's record has been dire for Palestinians well beyond the embassy move. He appointed a US ambassador, David Friedman, who cheerleads the most extreme elements among Israel's settlers. His administration has indulged a free-for-all in illegal settlement building.

Trump has ended US aid to the United Nations agency responsible for millions of Palestinians made refugees by Israel's decades of ethnic cleansing policies.

And early this year he published a so-called "peace" plan that permitted Israel to annex swaths of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, the backbone of any future Palestinian state. That move was put on temporary hold after Israel signed an accord with the UAE and Bahrain last week.

But rather than repudiate his opponent's record, Biden has sought to outcompete Trump for the title of most unwavering, uncritical supporter of Israel. His officials have plenty of evidence from Biden's half-century at the top of US politics.

Even when Biden served as vice-president in Barack Obama's administration, which had regular run-ins with Netanyahu, Biden boasts that he worked from within for Israel's interests. He has taken credit for securing an "unprecedented" $38 billion, 10-year military aid package in 2016.

Biden reportedly intervened personally in the drafting of the Democratic platform to make sure there was no mention of Israel's five-decade military "occupation" or any recognition of Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.

He has called resistance to Israel's belligerent occupation a Palestinian "choice". And he has echoed Netanyahu's malicious talking point that Palestinians must recognize Israel as a specifically Jewish state. That would undermine the rights of a fifth of Israel's population who are Palestinian, as well as pre-empting a right of Palestinian return enshrined in international law.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)

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