Joe Biden's proposal to resume Palestinian aid plan draws flak from Jewish groups, anti-war activists laud move

While Jewish groups slammed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee saying his plan will outrage every American, anti-war groups appealed to him to seek an end to Israel-Palestinian conflict

                            Joe Biden's proposal to resume Palestinian aid plan draws flak from Jewish groups, anti-war activists laud move
Joe Biden (Getty Images)

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has eyed a reversal in US foreign policy by resuming Washington's engagement with Palestine through economic and security support and it has seen a mixed response.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a Jewish body, and the Coalition of Jewish Values, a rabbinical group, have slammed the former vice president's viewpoint.

On the other hand, a coalition of anti-war groups wrote to Biden openly on Monday, May 11, requesting him to "build a future in which all Palestinians and Israelis live under full equality".

They appealed to him to "leverage the annual $3.8 billion in US military funding to Israel" and put an end to Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as the country's military blockade of Gaza. The letter has been signed by 51 organizations.

Last week, Biden told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that as the president, he would resume America’s assistance to the Palestinians, reopen the US consulate in eastern Jerusalem and the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington.

The 77-year-old also brought the focus back on the traditional idea of a two-state solution, saying: "A priority now for the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace should be resuming our dialogue with the Palestinians and pressing Israel not to take actions that make a two-state solution impossible."

Protesters burn a poster of President Donald Trump after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital (Getty Images)

The US has seen itself moving away from the Palestinians in the era of Donald Trump.

While the current administration in the White House has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel nd moved the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in December 2017, it also decided to freeze all support for the main UN welfare program for the Palestinian refugees in August 2018. 

'Biden's plan partially illegal'

Jewish bodies expressed their disappointment with Biden’s plans. Speaking to Cleveland Jewish News, ZOA national president Morton Klein and chair Mark Levenson even said the Democrat's plan to resume economic engagement with Palestine would be "partially illegal" under the 2018 Taylor Force Act.

The law aims at bringing an end to the Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund that pays Palestinians who have been killed, injured or imprisoned while confronting Israeli police or military forces.

"Biden's stated intention to resume sending US tax dollars to the [Palestinian Authority] (PA) will enable the PA to finance terrorism, and the murder and maiming of more innocent Jews and Americans," Klein and Levenson told the weekly newspaper.

Rabbi Dov Fischer, Western regional vice president of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said: "Every American should be outraged."

Speaking to Cleveland Jewish News, he said: "Joe Biden has just said he would break US law to do something which is also, of course, morally repugnant—to reinvolve the American taxpayer in incentivizing terrorism against innocent Americans like Taylor Force and others."

Anti-war groups' letter to Biden

The public letter organized by Demand Progress, conversely, urged the Democratic candidate to use economic and diplomatic pressure to achieve the two-state solution.

The letter, signed by Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Greenpeace, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Indivisible and other organizations, urged Biden to leverage America's $3.8 billion in Israeli military funding to get the two sides to agree on a peace plan that abides by the UN Security Council Resolutions and international law.

"US foreign policy has been overly focused on confrontation with perceived adversaries and the global projection of US military power. We believe that there is room to act aggressively to reform our foreign policy, with the support of the majority of the people of this country across the ideological spectrum," the letter read.

Among various ideas, the letter also requested Biden to consider shutting down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001) under which presidents can use military force without formally declaring war through the Congress, reducing Pentagon's military defense budget by $200 billion annually and putting a stop to the US' interventionist policies in the Middle East that eye regime changes and sanctions instead of talks. 

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