A Biden presidency resurrects ’67 lines, Palestinian state - analysis

Democratic 2020 US presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at his election rally, after news media announced that Biden has won the 2020 US presidential election, in Wilmington, Delaware, US, November 7, 2020.
(photo credit: ANDREW HARNIK/POOL VIA REUTERS)
US President-elect Joe Biden’s presidency will erase many of the gains the Israeli Right made over the last four years with regard to Israeli sovereignty over Area C of the West Bank – and reintroduces the concept of a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict at the pre-1967 lines.
It is no accident that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time during his speech in the Knesset Tuesday about the normalization deal with Bahrain, to speak against the pre-1967 lines.

Biden has long considered West Bank settlements to be a stumbling block to peace. In that way, he is consistent with both his Republican and Democratic predecessors – save for US President Donald Trump.
The divide between Israel and the United States with regard to the settlements dates back to the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War and has not shifted.
Outside of the last four years of the Trump administration, the United States has never accepted Israeli activities over the pre-1967 lines, including in east Jerusalem.
The US wavered between considering settlements illegal or illegitimate.
Israel, however, was able to push forward to lay the groundwork for its civilian hold on the West Bank with the creation of new settlements, in spite of the friction it created with the US until the Oslo Accords under president Bill Clinton, which ushered in the era of the two-state solution.

Clinton and the Oslo years 1993-2000
The Oslo era created a new parameter to the conflict, the terms of which have defined how it has been discussed for almost the last 30 years.
UNSC 2334 demanded that the international community distinguish in its dealings between sovereign and non-sovereign Israel, a move that allowed for the boycott of settlement entities and goods.
The US declared that it no longer held such a distinction. Its officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, said they recognized Israeli historical and religious rights to the territory – which they spoke of as Judea and Samaria and not the West Bank.
Trump’s administration allowed Israel to build and develop the settlements. It also published a peace plan, along with a map, that allowed for Israel to annex up to 30% of the West Bank, where all the settlers were. But he suspended that plan, which may now never come to fruition.
During his four-year tenure, which ends on January 20, Israel authorized two completely new settlements, only one of which was built. It deposited plans for the controversial E1 project of 3,412 settler homes in an unbuilt area of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
But while the rate of planning was high, the actual building of new settlement homes remained lower than it had during the Obama years. Not all the population data is available, but according to the CBS, it was at 441,600 in 2019.
What to expect from Biden
US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to return to the general, broad concepts held by his predecessors prior to Trump. Biden, who was a long time senator and then served as Obama’s vice president, has long spoken of his opposition to settlement activity.
Like Obama, Biden holds that Area C should be part of a future Palestinian state and that settlement building is a stumbling block to peace.
But during the campaign he never fully clarified the nuances of his position. He relied on general statements that rejected any Israeli unilateral annexation plans and called for a halt to settlement activity. Biden has specifically highlighted E1 as a project he would oppose.
But it is unclear if he would return to the past policy in which the US expressed displeasure at settlement activity but allowed Israel to continue. Or will he attempt, as Obama did, to pressure Israel to halt all settlement building?
Biden both in his statements and his past actions, has left the door open for the belief that he could accept the blocs or some modified form of them.
He is among the senators that voted for the 2004 Congressional resolution supporting the Bush-Sharon letter guaranteeing Israel that it would not have to withdraw from the blocs.
In an interview with The New York Times in February, he affirmed his support for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, but explained that he supported the Israeli retention of the long time settlements, not defining what he meant.
For the Israeli Right, the setback is enormous, given that this summer Israel seemed to be on the verge of annexation – and now it seems as if that possibility is all but buried.
The degree of Biden’s opposition to the settlements will determine the extent to which they can continue to develop, if at all.
It will also set the counters for one of the potential friction points between Biden and Netanyahu – and ultimately help mark the nature of their relationship.

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