US presidential hopeful Joe Biden 'opposes Israel's annexation of West Bank'

US presidential hopeful Joe Biden 'opposes Israel's annexation of West Bank'
US presidential candidate Joe Biden has taken a softer approach to Donald Trump's hardline pro-Israel stance and has opposed the annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
3 min read
29 April, 2020
Joe Biden is showing a softer approach [Getty]

A top-level aide to US presidential candidate Joe Biden said Biden opposes Israel's annexation of swarths of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday vowed to go ahead with controversial annexations that analysts say takes Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank a step further.

The annexation plan came after Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz signed a deal for a unity government that could accelerate the premier's plans to annex parts of the West Bank in the coming months. 

Senior foreign policy adviser Tony Blinken urged that Biden had been consistent with his support to the two-state solution and shows no sign of changing it in the foreseeable future, according to Jewish Insider

Biden has been "on the record several times [that] unilateral steps taken by either side that make the prospect of a negotiated two-state outcome less likely is something he opposes, and that includes annexation", said Blinken. 

Read more: Israel's unity government protects Netanyahu from prosecution, paves the way for annexation

"In many ways, pulling the plug on a two-state solution is pulling the plug, potentially, on an Israel that is not only secure but is Jewish and democratic — for the future. That’s not something any of us, who are ardent supporters of Israel, would want to see," Blinken added.

Biden's policy on Jerusalem remains that similar to Trump. According to Blinken, Biden will not revert the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying such a step "would not make sense practically and politically".

Blinken's remarks come as the Trump administration announced it is willing to recognise and support Israel's annexation plan.

"As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognise Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel," a US State Department spokesperson said on Monday.

The spokesperson added that the illegal annexation will be "in the context of the government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump's Vision".

Modest change for Palestinians

Biden's position is a small change for Palestinians, who have endured a US administration that has showed unwavering support for Israel.

Palestinians have deplored Washington's approach, saying the Trump administration acts overtly favourable to Israel since the US recognised Jerusalem as the so-called capital of Israel.

At the time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the Jerusalem escalations as an act of war.

Last month, the US described East Jerusalem Palestinians as "Arab residents" or "non-Israeli citizens" in an annual global human rights report, changing from the previously used "Palestinian residents" description.

Read also: The unity of Jerusalemites should be respected, not tokenised

After unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 and its annexation of the Golan from Syria in March 2019, Trump in late January 2020 unveiled a peace plan for the Middle East that included huge concessions to Israel.

The peace plan says it would let Israel annex a third of the West Bank, inside which are hundreds of illegal settlements along with the Jordan Valley.

It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in a small archipelago of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet the near impossible conditions set out by Trump.

Under the plan, Israel would retain control of the disputed city of Jerusalem as its "undivided capital", and annex settlements on Palestinian lands. Palestinians, however, want all of east Jerusalem to be the capital of any future state.

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