In electing a US president, the Palestinian national interest requires deep consideration, as the Trump administration was the worst administration for the Palestinian people.
Written by: Adv. Hatem Abu Ihlel
All eyes are on the US presidential elections that will be held on the 3rd of November, 2020 after the completion of the preparatory procedures for the two major parties, Democratic and Republican, where the final candidate from each party will be chosen to compete to become the next president. The current candidates in the US elections include President Donald Trump, where he is running for a second term for the Republican Party and has a clear policy bias towards the Israel-right wing, and Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate who clarified his policy towards the issue during his political history throughout his Vice Presidency for President Barack Obama for two presidential terms, 2008-2016. The questions that arise here are: What advice was given to the Palestinian leadership in the upcoming elections? What should be done to choose the best option for the Palestinian cause?
Palestinians witnessed US presidents from both the Democratic and Republican parties. It has become clear that the US’s interest is what remains constant, which is embodied in its strategic ally in the Middle East, Israel, along with the balancing of its interests with the Middle East and Arab Gulf. Since Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016, foreign policy has changed in an unprecedented way, indicating the absolute bias towards Israel and the implementation of all its desires without any political, legal or moral considerations, as the following: the suspension of aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), then the recognition of the legitimacy of settlements, the recognition of Israel’s right to the Golan Heights, the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, as well as the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of it as the capital of Israel. It further continued with the Trump administration’s pressure on Arab leaders to force the Palestinian leadership to agree to the so-called “deal of the century,” which was rejected by the Palestinians. This led to the cutting of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and the reaching of the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace agreement.
These policies were not known about the United States of America, at least not on the surface. The decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was taken since 1995, but it was not implemented and has been frozen since its issuance by successive US administrations for their attempt to maintain a balance. However, the Trump administration has openly and unlawfully recognized Israel’s right to Jerusalem and has also violated UN Resolutions 242 and 338 along with Resolution 2334, which was issued at the end of Obama’s term regarding the illegality of settlements.
Who will win the US elections, Joe Biden or Donald Trump?
The US presidential election of 2020 differs from previous ones, as there is a new factor that has led to the reconsideration of the candidates’ speeches when addressing the voters on how the current crisis will be managed. The Coronavirus, COVID-19, is a new independent factor that has not been previously experienced with and has changed the course of the US elections in terms of electoral programs and the priorities they contain. It directly touches the interests of the American citizen and puts the candidates before the challenge of choosing the best way to eradicate the virus, especially since the geography of the spread of the virus is an important factor in determining the identity of the next president of the United States of America. As there are some swing states that have a very large spread of the virus, such as Florida, which will determine 29 electoral votes. Thus, the voter’s choice will be the result of his/her belief about which candidate has the ability to reach the best solution in achieving progress on the health level of the United States of America.
Biden is ahead in the Polls:
The COVID-19 pandemic led Biden to advance in the polls for this year’s election campaigns. According to opinion polls, even after Trump’s impeachment, he was still in the lead, however Biden has taken a stable lead in national polls. Trump’s level of popularity has decreased significantly according to the polls, most likely due to the COVID-19 crisis. This is because of many shortcomings, political accumulations for the American society, and various questions that must have satisfactory answers. The main reason behind the outbreak of the pandemic in America is the delay in the decision to stop transportation lines and communications with China and its failure to assess the situation in a suitable manner.
The Economic Factor and COVID-19:
Trump was able to increase the number of jobs as a result of foreign investment and reduce the unemployment rate. Trump’s isolationist policy towards America and the failure of America to continue to play the role of global policeman led to the recovery of the US economy, of which the unemployment rate among Americans reached in February 2020, that is, before the COVID-19 outbreak, to 3.5%, which was the lowest in 50 years. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of those who are unemployed has reached 42 million, and experts expect the unemployment rate to rise to 20%, which is the highest since the global economic recession of 1929 and twice the rate reached in the 2009 recession.
The positive reflection of the foreign policies of the Donald Trump administration on the American economy were nothing but “momentary” repercussions because the foreign policy has created a state of isolation as a result of the withdrawal in the country and the constant search for the interest of America and America only. Although these policies led to positive repercussions, they are temporary repercussions.
Consequently, we will discuss policies that give more than a “strategic” momentary effect. The advice that can be directed to the Palestinian leadership is that the US elections is represented by the Coronavirus, which is a changing factor. Even if the indications are strong in favor of Biden, this cannot be confirmed, as politics by its nature changes from time to time, and at every moment the equation may change. Months ago, the polls were in favor of Trump, and today, they are in favor of Biden. There are two more months left for the elections, where a lot may happen. The Palestinian experience of Trump’s term is bitter, and therefore it would be wise for the Palestinian leadership to not directly interfere in the US elections, even if its influence is weak.
Biden’s victory would be better for the Palestinians, who is similar or close to Obama. It is likely that if Biden is elected for president, it will lead to liberal policies that represent the Democratic Party, which he expressed. This was represented in his unwillingness to close the US embassy that was opened in Jerusalem. However, he indicated that he will open a consulate in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, in the sense of implementing the idea of dividing East and West Jerusalem, within the two-state solution. It is better for the Palestinians to remain neutral and to continue adopting their positions without interfering in any way that shows bias towards one side in the elections even if the favor for Biden increases. In electing a US president, the Palestinian national interest requires deep consideration, as the Trump administration was the worst administration for the Palestinian people.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.