Jonathan Kuttab, author of Beyond The Two-State Solution, is a Palestinian Christian and human rights lawyer.
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We Need a Radical Prophetic Position on Israel/Palestine
THE TRUMP administration was an utter catastrophe for those who care about justice and peace in Israel/Palestine. U.S. policy was entrusted to right-wing settlement supporters such as Ambassador David Friedman and Jared Kushner and Christian Zionists such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The administration applauded—and legalized—settlement expansion, showing utter disdain for international law. They displayed blatant antagonism to Palestinians by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, cutting off financial aid to Palestinian hospitals and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and closing the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington. They capped it all by promoting fake “peace” alternatives, such as Trump’s disastrous “Peace to Prosperity” plan and the normalization agreements with Gulf countries. These policies aimed to appease the most hard-right policies of Israel and the eschatological fantasies of evangelical Christian Zionists, rather than seeking genuine peace or justice.
The Biden administration is likely to reverse some of these extreme steps. Biden has already signaled, however, that he would not reverse the embassy move, nor support any measures for conditioning aid to Israel based on its behavior. Biden’s policy will likely be marked by a return to the traditional policies of the Obama era, which included anemic objections to renewed settlement expansion, verbal support for a two-state solution, and vague references to international law, while resisting any pressure on Israel to actually comply with international law or create a sovereign Palestinian state.
Principles for Prophetic Action in the Middle East
AS CHRISTIANS concerned about peace and justice, this time of crisis in the Middle East provides us an opportunity to return to our principles, the “springs of living waters” for people of faith:
- We need to oppose both anti-Semitism as well as any form of discrimination and racism against Palestinian Arabs. Solutions that promote or tolerate discriminatory and racist institutions and practices should be forthrightly condemned. Settlements, illegal under international law and discriminatory against Palestinians, need to be rejected rather than tolerated and legitimized.
- We need to work for justice, which requires that we work for a solution that levels the playing field rather than seek a “realistic” approach that reflects the balance of power between the parties, necessarily favoring the strong against the weak.
- We need to seek reconciliation and peace between the parties, rather than assuming eternal hostility and enmity between the parties.