JJP and EJJP lobby President Elect Biden to rescind Donald Trump’s anti-Palestinian measures


President Elect Joe Biden

On 14 January 2021, the JJP Lobby Group wrote to President Elect Biden to urge him to rescind the many deleterious measures Donald Trump took in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. Donald Trump is so hated by the Democrats in all parts of the party, and his measures are so obviously one-sided and ill-advised, that we think most of them will be rescinded in one way or another.

On 28 January 2021, European Jews for a Just Peace wrote to President Biden with the same request, updated to account for the decisions on three Trump actions that had already been made. EJJP is the federation of 11 Jewish peace groups in10 different countries of which JJP is a founding  member. The Israel NGO Peace Now co-signed this letter.

Our JJP letter of 14 January is below:

President Elect Joe Biden 14 January 2021

c.c. Secretary of Sate Designate Anthony Blinken

Dear Mr. Biden,

We are writing to you about the grossly unjust and ill-advised measures that Donald Trump’s administration took in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. They amounted to helping Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in his attempts to legitimise Israel’s illegal behaviour and to extinguish the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

We know you are a decent and pragmatic man, and we urge you to retract all these measures. Taken together, and beyond the specific nature of each measure, retractions will reinstate America’s standing as a primary support for international law and the rules-based international order.

The list is long:

First and foremost, publicly retract the “Peace to Prosperity “ plan. Not only is it vicious and ignorant of history, it would also be rightly unacceptable to any conceivable Palestinian leadership. Leading Democratic Congressmen, many of them Jewish, denounced it in the strongest terms.

Reinstate the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Mission in Washington. This will reinstate America’s respect for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Reinstate American financial contributions to UNWRA, which is vital for supporting Palestinian refugees. This would be a clear rejection of President Trump’s fallacious claim that the children and grandchildren of the original refugees do not, themselves, have refugee status.

Retract American acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israeli sovereignty over any part of the heights can only be the result of negotiations between Israel and Syria.

Reopen the American Consulate in East Jerusalem to directly conduct American relations with the Palestinian Authority, restoring its independence of the Embassy, which conducts American relations with the government of Israel.

Consider moving the American Embassy back to Tel Aviv, despite the indication given by your office before the election that there were no plans for that. Undoing the move to Jerusalem would be the best possible signal that the Trump era of ignoring UN resolutions is over.

Rescind the State Department press release instigated by Secretary of Sate Pompeo, “Identifying organisations engaged in antisemitic activities”. This equates anti-Zionism and BDS with antisemitism. The assertion is illogical and ahistorical.

Zionism is the ideology of Jewish territorial self determination. It requires control over a particular territory and therefore cannot be considered a necessary part of being Jewish. Moreover, the great majority of the indigenous population of that territory were not Jewish, and did not agree to Zionists taking over any part of it. They have been disenfranchised by Zionism. Therefore, for both the general and the specific reasons, people have the right to an opinion about Zionism, whether that opinion is supportive or unsupportive.

There have now been 14 Court rulings in the US, the UK and Europe that BDS advocacy is not antisemitic and is therefore a legal activity. The reasoning is clear: BDS is not discriminatory against Jews because it concerns the policies of the Israeli government, whose actions are open to protest as are those of any government.

Rescinding the press release will restore people’s confidence that the United States is not trying to curtail free speech in relation to Israel.

We urge you, with Secretary of Sate Blinken. to make it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the settlement expansions announced in the past six months will not be tolerated. They were obviously announced in the hope that President Trump’s tacit approval would allow Israel to press ahead with them even if he lost the election. Some are in very sensitive locations that would frustrate the possibility of an independent Palestinian state if they went ahead. State Department staff will be well aware of them.

Finally, we urge you and Secretary of State Blinken to build on Security Council Resolution 2334, which President Obama ushered into life by abstaining in the Security Council vote in the last days of his administration. That was a welcome, if belated, recognition that no right-wing Israeli government will ever voluntarily negotiate to end the occupation Now is the time to add teeth to 2334 and apply tangible diplomatic and economic pressure on the Israeli government to allow the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur Goodman

Parliamentary and Diplomatic Officer

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (London)

Our EJJP letter of 28 January is below:

President Joe Biden 28 January 2021

cc. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

Dear Mr. Biden,

We are writing to you about the grossly unjust and ill-advised measures that Donald Trump’s administration took in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. They amounted to helping Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in his attempts to legitimise Israel’s illegal behaviour and to extinguish the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

We know you are a decent and pragmatic man, and we urge you to retract all these measures. Taken together, and beyond the specific nature of each measure, retractions will reinstate America’s standing as a primary support for international law and the rules-based international order. Your Acting Ambassador to the United Nations has already announced the reinstatement of Palestinian diplomatic missions and of major financial aid, for which we thank you.

The list is long:

First and foremost, publicly retract the “Peace to Prosperity “ plan. Not only is it vicious and ignorant of history, it would also be rightly unacceptable to any conceivable Palestinian leadership. Leading Democratic Congressmen, many of them Jewish, denounced it in the strongest terms.

Reinstate the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Mission in Washington. This will reinstate America’s respect for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Reinstate the vital American financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority.

Reinstate the contributions to UNRWA. This would be a clear rejection of President Trump’s fallacious claim that the children and grandchildren of the original refugees do not, themselves, have refugee status.

Retract American acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israeli sovereignty over any part of the heights can only be the result of negotiations between Israel and Syria.

Reopen the American Consulate in East Jerusalem to conduct American relations with the Palestinian Authority directly, restoring its independence of the Embassy, which will restore American support for Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem.

Consider moving the American Embassy back to Tel Aviv, despite the indication that it would not be done. Undoing the move to Jerusalem would be the best possible signal that the Trump era of ignoring UN resolutions is over.

Rescind the State Department press release instigated by Secretary of Sate Pompeo, “Identifying organisations engaged in antisemitic activities”. This equates anti-Zionism and BDS with antisemitism. The assertion is illogical and ahistorical.

Zionism is the ideology of Jewish territorial self-determination. It requires control over territory and therefore cannot be considered a necessary part of being Jewish. Moreover, the great majority of the indigenous population of the particular territory which Zionists sought to control – Palestine -were not Jewish, and did not agree to Zionists taking over any part of it. They have been disenfranchised by Zionism. Therefore, for both the general and the specific reasons, people have the right to an opinion about Zionism, whether that opinion is supportive or unsupportive.

There have now been 15 Court rulings in the US, the UK and Europe that BDS advocacy is not antisemitic and is therefore a legal activity. The reasoning is clear: BDS is not discriminatory against Jews because it concerns the policies of the Israeli government, whose actions are open to protest as are those of any government.

Rescinding the press release will restore people’s confidence that the United States is not trying to curtail free speech in relation to Israel.

We urge you, with Secretary of Sate Blinken. to make it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the settlement expansions announced in the past six months will not be tolerated. They were obviously announced in the hope that President Trump’s tacit approval would allow Israel to press ahead with them even if he lost the election. Some are in very sensitive locations that would frustrate the possibility of an independent Palestinian state if they went ahead. State Department staff will be well aware of them.

Finally, we urge you and Secretary of State Blinken to build on Security Council Resolution 2334, which President Obama ushered into life by abstaining in the Security Council vote in the last days of his administration. That was a welcome, if belated, recognition that no right-wing Israeli government will ever voluntarily negotiate to end the occupation Now is the time to add teeth to 2334 and apply tangible diplomatic and economic pressure on the Israeli government to allow the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.

Yours sincerely,

Dror Feiler, Chair, European Jews for a Just Peace

Shaqued Morag, Executive Director, Peace Now

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