On his upcoming visit to the Middle East, which will take place from July 13-16, President Biden will make three stops – in Jerusalem, to meet with Acting Prime Minister Yair Lapid; in Ramallah (or possibly Bethlehem), to meet with Mahmoud Abbas; and in Jeddah, where Biden will participate in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council and three other Arab states, with leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
Before flying to the Saudi Kingdom, Biden will meet with Israeli leaders to discuss security, including Iran’s nuclear program, and the nation’s integration in the region. He’ll then travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders, consult with the Palestinian Authority, and reiterate his strong support for an ever more implausible “two-state solution,” which will supposedly provide – this is by now a mantra of the Bidenites — “equal measures of security, freedom, and opportunity for the Palestinian people.”
Biden plans to discuss with both Israel and Saudi Arabia the United Nations-led truce in Yemen, and Houthi attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, as well as other ongoing security threats from Iran, including its aid to Hezbollah in Syria, Iran’s nuclear project, and at the very top of his agenda, ensuring energy security, as Russia’s war in Ukraine destabilizes global oil markets. Biden will encourage the Israeli sale of its natural gas, via LNG terminals in Egypt, to an energy-starved Europe. But above all, he will be trying to convince the Saudis to raise their oil production, in order to bring down the price of gasoline at the pump for American consumers, which may determine which party wins the 2022 Congressional elections. All that talk a year ago by Biden promising to treat Saudi Arabia as an international “pariah” has gone by the wayside. The Crown Prince must be pleased to see Biden having to swallow his words and come, hat in hand, to the Kingdom to plead for it to raise its oil production.
One party who is apprehensive about Biden’s visit is the PA’s President, Mahmoud Abbas. He recently engaged in talks in Amman, hoping to shore up his relations with the Hashemite kingdom. A report on his talks with King Abdullah is here: “Palestinian Authority fears Biden visit would sideline Palestinian issue,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2022:
After holding a series of meetings with senior PLO and Fatah officials in Ramallah to discuss the future of relations between the Palestinians and Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday arrived in Amman for talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The Abbas-Abdullah talks came as Palestinian officials expressed concern that the Palestinian issue would be “marginalized” in wake of the talk about the formation of a new Israeli-Arab military alliance in the region.
In 2021, Israel conducted large-scale naval drills in the Red Sea with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. The UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco have all asked Israel to sell its defensive weapons systems to them. The UAE and Bahrain have mentioned Iron Dome, the Green Pine radar system and the Arrow system for defense against ballistic missiles. Morocco has bought drones and “advanced weapons” (unspecified). Business deals worth at least $1 billion have already been made between Israel and the UAE. A free-trade agreement was just signed between the two, which UAE analysts predict will lead to $10 billion in trade within five years. The doubters have been silenced. John Kerry, who famously said there would be no agreements between Israel and Arab states until the Palestinian state had been established, has had to sheepishly keep quiet.
All three Arab countries are looking to benefit from Israeli advances in high tech, as well as from he Jewish state’s position as a world leader in water management (including waste water recycling, desalination, drip irrigation, and producing water out of the circumambient air), in solar energy, in battery technology, in drones. in missile defense systems including the laser-based Iron Beam, and so much more. Israel, in its relations with Arab members of the Abraham Accords, goes from strength to strength. Israel also has close security ties with two Arab countries — Egypt and Saudi Arabia — that are not members of the Abraham Accords, but have benefited from Israeli intelligence. Egypt and Israel collaborate on fighting Jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sinai, while Israel shares intelligence about Iran’s regional proxies and allies, and its nuclear threat, with Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinian leadership is also worried that Saudi Arabia was on its way to normalizing its ties with Israel, a move Ramallah fears would further increase the Palestinians’ isolation in the Arab world.
The Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman, is know to favor ever-closer ties to Israel. He is tired of the whole Palestinian business. In 2018, he told a complaining Mahmoud Abbas to “just accept whatever deal the Americans offer you.” MbS’ exasperation was palpable. The only thing that now prevents Saudi Arabia from joining the Abraham Accords is the opposition of King Salman, who has said that before he would allow such a move, a Palestinian state would have to be established. The Crown Prince clearly thinks otherwise. King Salman is 87 and in poor health. Once MbS is king, there will be nothing to hold Saudi Arabia back from joining its closest Arab allies, the UAE and Bahrain, in the Abraham Accords, which will solidify, and deepen, the country’s security cooperation with the Jewish state.
Both the military alliance and the Israel-Saudi relations are on the agenda of Biden’s talks next month in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Second to Biden’s determination to persuade the Saudis to raise their oil production is his desire to promote an Israel-Saudi alliance. His administration was originally lukewarm about the Abraham Accords, but has gradually come round to support them, as it has seen their spectacular results, especially the flourishing business deals between the UAE and Israel. It may be that Biden has decided to leave the heavy lifting in the effort to end Iran’s nuclear program to Israel; if so, forward operating bases in Saudi Arabia would be of great help to the Israeli Air Force.
Palestinian officials said that Abbas’s talks with King Abdullah were in the context of continuing coordination between the Palestinians and Jordan. Abbas was accompanied by PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh and Majed Faraj, head of the PA General Intelligence Service.
The Jordanian monarch told Abbas that Jordan stands by the Palestinian people and their cause, according to a statement by the royal palace in Amman. He also stressed that the only way to end the Palestinian-Israeli-conflict is through the two-state solution and reiterated the need to preserve the status quo at the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).”
But that so-called “two-state solution” would require Israeli withdrawals from Judea and Samaria that would make Israel less secure, less able to defend itself, and in so doing, will whet, not sate, Arab appetites. That “solution” is no solution at all, especially if it were to lead to an Israel squeezed back within the 1949 armistice lines (what the Arabs misleadingly, call the “1967 lines”). That would leave Israel stripped of the Jordan Valley and the Golan, both critical to its defense, and leave the Jewish state with a nine-mile wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea. An invader from the east could slice the country in two at that very point; it might take a half-hour.
Abdullah informed the PA president that Jordan is “in constant contact with the US and is working to place the Palestinian issue at the top of the Biden’s agenda during his visit to the region.”
Jordan has no clout in Washington. It is a client state, dependent on the U.S. for $1.3 billion annually. It depends on Israel itself for both water – some 50 billion cubic meters annually – and energy, the natural gas that comes from the Tamar and Leviathan fields. It has as much influence in Washington as Albania or Bolivia or Chad.
It has slowly dawned on Biden that the Abraham Accords are a good thing, and ought to be encouraged, and on the sidelines of the conference in Jeddah, he is likely to make that point to the Saudis. His visit to Mahmoud Abbas is pro forma, where he will commit to nothing but simply repeat the Bidenite mantra that “Israelis and Palestinians deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, and dignity” and then be on his way to Jeddah.
On Saturday night, the Fatah Central Committee expressed its hope that Biden’s visit would “constitute a real opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations and contribute to creating the atmosphere for a political horizon to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.”
The Fatah leaders stressed at the end of a meeting that was chaired by Abbas the importance of removing the PLO from the US terrorist lists and reopening the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, which was closed by the Trump administration.
Someone should break it to Abbas gently. He no longer has any influence either in Washington, or in the Middle East, where the Gulf Arabs have decisively turned their backs on the Palestinians. The PLO, which is the first of the Palestinian terror groups, will not be removed from the U.S. terrorist list; even if currently it does not itself engage in terrorism, it continues to support and promote the same terrorism that made it famous in the 1970s. And should Biden try to reopen the PLO office, the furor in Congress would harm the chances of the Democratic candidates this November. Would he risk that, just to please the likes of the thoroughly corrupt Mahmoud Abbas (the President and his two sons have a net worth of $400 million), whose murder of Nizar Banat, his severest critic, is no different from the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi that has so upset Biden.
The Fatah leaders called on Biden to fulfill the electoral promises he made to the Palestinians, including the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem which was also shut by the Trump administration. The Central Committee stresses the importance of this.
When Biden made that campaign pledge to reopen the “consulate to the Palestinians” in Jerusalem, neither he nor, apparently, anyone else high in his administration understood that they simply could not, by fiat, do this. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963), states clearly that the “receiving State” must agree to accept a foreign consulate:
Article 4 Establishment of a consular post
1.A consular post may be established in the territory of the receiving State only with that State’s consent.
2.The seat of the consular post, its classification and the consular district shall be established by the sending State and shall be subject to the approval of the receiving State.
In this case, both outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister and soon to be Acting Prime Minister Yair Lapid have said they will not allow such a consulate to be opened in Jerusalem.
There is no getting round this, and now the Bidenites must know it. But they are in a bind. If they now refer to this Vienna Convention, and explain that “that is why we can’t reopen the consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem,” they look foolish. After all, they are admitting that they – Biden and Blinken –made a promise that was not theirs to make; they had not done their most basic homework, either at State or at the White House, by reading the Vienna Convention. That’s why they have gone very quiet on the question. They hope the matter will simply go away.
The PA has “also urged Biden to reaffirm his administration’s recognition of the two-state solution and opposition to any changes to the status quo in Jerusalem and the Haram al-Sharif and settlement expansion.”
Sure, let Biden go ahead and mention the “two-state solution.” It is essentially meaningless, because it does not tell us anything about the borders of the “two states,” nor about the limits that might be imposed on either of those states, such as demilitarization. Why should anyone call this a “solution” if, instead, it makes an Arab attack in Israel more, not less, likely in the future, by removing the deterrent value of Israeli’s current boundaries.
The leaders said that they discussed “the dangerous and continuing Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people and their land and holy sites.”
What “escalation” is that? Does it refer to the IDF and Shin Bet raiding hideouts of terrorists responsible recently for the murders of 20 Israelis? As for “escalation” against the “holy sites,” both Rachel’s Tomb and Joseph’s Tomb, have been the objects of firebombing and smashed stonework, not by Israelis, but by Palestinians. Or is it on the Temple Mount where this “Israeli escalation” has gone on? Israeli police on the Mount continue to enforce a ban on Jewish prayer. They strive only to prevent those Arabs who hurl rocks and explosives on Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall far below, or at Jewish visitors on the Mount, from doing so. Or is it an “escalation” by Israel when its police, in hot pursuit of Arabs who have been throwing rocks at Jewish visitors, briefly enter Al-Aqsa Mosque to seize them and their storehouse of weapons? The “escalation” is entirely on the Arab side; the Israeli police, the IDF, and the Shin Bet are only trying to halt the murderous violence let loose on Israeli Jews.
On Thursday [June 23] night, Abbas chaired a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah also to discuss preparations for the Biden visit.
The committee members took the Biden administration to ask for failure to carry out the promises it made to the Palestinians.
The committee called for putting in place “serious mechanisms to implement what President Biden promised and the US administration talked about regarding the reopening of the US Consulate in East Jerusalem.”
The PLO committee said that the failure to implement the promises shows that the US “continues to support the occupation at all levels.”
Let’s briefly summarize why the Bidenites can’t “carry out the promises” they made to the Palestinians.
Primo, they can’t reopen the consulate in Jerusalem because Israel, the “receiving State,” won’t accept it. See the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Article 4, sections 1 and 2.
Secundo, they can’t remove the PLO from the US Terrorism List because the PLO has never renounced terrorism, and continues to support it, and celebrate its own and other terrorists, to this very day.
Tertio, they can’t reopen the PLO office in Washington precisely because the PLO will remain on that list. And politically, even to attempt to reopen the PLO office would severely damage this administration, which in its Middle Eastern policy is a listing Narrenschiff, or Ship of Fools, that has to worry about the November elections.
Complain away, Mahmoud Abbas, about American perfidy. No one cares. The Palestinian dogs bark, the caravan moves on.