Editorial |

Palestinians at End of the Line, Again

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Women wave their national flags while holding placards with Arabic that reads "we reject the U.S. support to the Zionist occupation", and the second placard in the back on the left reads “Palestine," during a protest against U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to the region, at the Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City, on Thursday.
Women wave their national flags while holding placards with Arabic that reads "we reject the U.S. support to the Zionist occupation", and the second placard in the back on the left reads “Palestine," during a protest against U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to the region, at the Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City, on Thursday.Credit: Adel Hana /AP
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to visit the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem on Friday, and later in the day he is due to visit Bethlehem, where he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This is a positive step, especially in view of the wretched relations between the Palestinian leadership and the administration of Donald Trump. But like the Israelis, the Palestinians too are unlikely to hear of a diplomatic vision that is even remotely connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which in recent years has become known as the “Palestinian issue” – as if there is no conflict between the two sides, merely a problem that afflicts one side only.

This time as well, the Palestinians will have to put their dreams of an independent state and even the faint hope of a renewal of diplomatic negotiations in storage. Instead, they will have to make do with a few, mostly economic gestures, among them authorization to lay out a 4G cellular network in the West Bank, a symbolic Palestinian presence at the Allenby Bridge crossing and flights for Palestinians from Ramon Airport. It is thus not surprising that the Americans and Palestinians failed to agree on a joint statement. After all, what could they have said?

It’s true that Biden expressed a “deep commitment to the two-state solution” and claimed that the two-state solution is “the best way to ensure the future of equal measure of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” But both Ramallah and Jerusalem heard loudly and clearly the reservations that immediately followed when the president added that a solution is “not in the near term.” In other words, yes, but only in the future. Peace, but not now.

There is no lack of excuses. The political situation in Israel is in deadlock, the peace camp is battered and bruised, and Yair Lapid is no more than a caretaker prime minister in a government of change that is committed to maintaining the diplomatic status quo. On top of that a war is going on in Europe, the world has yet to recover from COVID-19, Trump is breathing down Biden’s neck and his domestic situation is complicated.

Nevertheless, extraordinary circumstances are creating new alliances with the Arab world: On Saturday afternoon Biden is expected to fly on an exceptional direct flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to expand the circle of normalization in the region – but the Palestinians are being pushed to the back of the queue. The tab for this sorry error will be picked up by both Palestinians and Israelis.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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