In recent weeks, Joe Biden's plans to visit Israel have been coming to the light, as it marks his first visit to the Middle East as President of the United States of America. Yet, details of the visit have been triggering questions over changes in US policy towards the situation in the region, particularly Israel's control of East Jerusalem.
While Joe Biden's decision to visit Israel as a first destination in the Middle East indicates US commitment to the historic alliance with Israel in the region, changes in US policy towards Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory are starting to show, especially that they follow years of blind American support for Israel, under the former US administration of Donald Trump.
#SCOOP: US President Joe Biden is considering a visit to Al Makassed Hospital, the largest Palestinian medical center in east Jerusalem, an Israeli source said on Monday. @POTUS | #Jerusalem https://t.co/Qm0pE4enDb— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) May 9, 2022
According to sources in the White House, Biden's visit which will take place by the end of June 2022, will include a visit to East Jerusalem, the territory deemed Palestinian as per international laws.
However, Biden has chosen to go to the area under Israeli military control without the company of Israeli officials, which has been interpreted as a lack of recognition for Israeli sovereignty over the eastern part of the city, the one announced by the Trump administration in December 2017.
The Biden administration is considering meetings by Biden in eastern Jerusalem that would ‘exclude’ all Israeli representation, effectively expressing a lack of Israeli sovereignty in E Jerusalem.— David Shor (@DYShor) May 9, 2022
No prior President had ever done so, and the Israelis are VERY opposed. https://t.co/ib2luMdXIX
Sources also note that Biden will also be visiting Makassed Hospital, which is the largest Palestinian health service provider in Jerusalem, possibly to announce a humanitarian initiative.
Former President Donald Trump cut $25 million in planned funding for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which included Al Makassed Hospital, so a Biden visit would be seen as a gesture to Palestinians.— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) May 9, 2022
This comes nearly four years after the Trump administration's decision to recognize the two parts of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that has since sparked questions over US foreign policy and its misalignment with international laws, at a time other western governments emphasized their commitment to UN rules according to which East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory.
In 2021, tensions in East Jerusalem reached historic highs, after Israeli courts considered forceful evacuation of dozens of Palestinian families from their houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, triggering protests across Palestinian territories as well as several cities around the world.
Ever since taking office in January 2021, Joe Biden's officials denied plans to reverse decisions taken by his predecessor Donald Trump in regard to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Yet, Biden's administration renewed US commitment to the two-state solution, resumed financial aid to the UN Agency of Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees UNRWA, and reopened offices for Palestinian diplomatic delegations in Washington, DC, in addition to promising the reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem, the one that handled Palestinian affairs before being closed by Donald Trump.
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