In a partial reversal of policies initiated by former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration on Thursday announced the creation of a U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem, a move that opponents argue only emboldens and encourages anti-Israeli terrorism that has seen an uptick in recent weeks, as Fox News reports.
According to NPR, the decision was made public ahead of a potential visit by Biden to Israel as well as the West Bank, and though it is essentially bureaucratic in nature, the change affords Palestinians an opportunity to engage with the State Department directly without having to use the American ambassador as a conduit.
The administration indicated that the name of the entity was changed from the Palestinian Affairs United to the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs as a way to “strengthen our diplomatic reporting and public diplomacy engagement.”
That statement went on to declare, “We felt that it was important to reintroduce separate reporting lines to Washington on Israeli and Palestinian issues, by our respective teams on the ground that focus on these issues,” a not-so-subtle rebuke of the Trump administration’s efforts to bolster ties with Israel.
As such, veterans of the Trump administration, including former deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates, believe that Biden’s move will only hinder progress when it comes to achieving lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“We had a consul-general in West Jerusalem for decades dedicated to Palestinian affairs, which meant Palestinians had to cross into West Jerusalem for any consular affairs related to the United States,” she explained to Fox News Digital.
“Since 2018, their affairs have been handled by a proper U.S. Embassy, which also happens to be in West Jerusalem. This unnecessary change with the Palestinians will only prolong the stalemate between them and Israel and will not bring us any closer to peace than the old [consulate-general] did,” Coates added.
Danny Danon, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the change as well, saying, “[t]he Biden administration is reverting to past failed practices. Although the announced changes are essentially bureaucratic in nature, with amendments to names and reporting lines, it is the symbolism of the move which hits home for some. It signals an upgrade in relations with the possibility of more fruitless promises to come.”
Israeli human rights attorney Arsen Ostrovsky put things even more bluntly to Fox News Digital, stating, “the move, a direct challenge to Israel’s sovereignty, which potentially might also breach the Jerusalem Embassy Act, will only reward Palestinian intransigence and violence, as we have seen in past months,” which, sadly, seems to be part and parcel of the far-left playbook from which Biden – or at least his handlers – typically read.