by Ali Abunimah, for Days of Palestine
Democratic presidential hopefulÂ Elizabeth WarrenÂ has made her clearest statement on how she would approach Israelâ€™s decades of occupation and oppression of Palestinians.
It is arguably a microscopic improvement from previous positions.
At best Warrenâ€™s approach amounts to a return to President Barack Obamaâ€™s policy of enabling Israelâ€™s rampant crimes while paying lip-service to â€śpeace.â€ť
The think tank asks Warren, â€śDo you support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if so, how would you go about trying to achieve it?â€ť
She begins with feel-good pablum about how â€śI believe in the worth and value of every Israeli and every Palestinian.â€ť
â€śThe way we respect all parties is through a two-state solution â€“ an outcome thatâ€™s good for US interests, good for Israelâ€™s security and its future, and good for Palestinian aspirations for dignity and self-determination,â€ť Warren adds.
She also endorses â€śan end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip living alongside Israel.â€ť
She does not mention the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes â€“ something Israel bars solely on theÂ racist groundsÂ that they are not Jewish.
In fact, she doesnâ€™t mention Palestinian rights at all.
Warren does promise â€śimmediate steps to reestablish Americaâ€™s role as a credible mediator.â€ť
(Letâ€™s leave aside whether America ever had such credibility to begin with.)
Restarting funding to UNRWA, the UN agency providing vital services to millions of Palestinian refugees, would be helpful.
But itâ€™s important to remember that â€śhumanitarianâ€ť aid has served as a long-term palliative for the worst effects of Israeli crimes. It does nothing to reverse the injustice.
Warren addresses the thorny question of Jerusalem with a dodge.
She says, â€śboth parties should have the option to locate their capitalsâ€ť in the city.
Whatâ€™s important is whatâ€™s missing: Warren pointedly does not say she will reverse Trumpâ€™s internationallyÂ condemnedÂ decision to recognize Israel as Jerusalemâ€™s capital and to move the US embassy there.
The senator pledges to â€śfocus real financial and political resources on fixing the man-made humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.â€ť
But she fails to name which men â€“ and women â€“ created that catastrophe.
It is the direct product of Israelâ€™s 12-year blockade on Gaza, which isÂ calculatedÂ to produce conditions so dire that many of the two million people who live there will be forced to leave.
It is Israeli ethnic cleansing by siege.
More aid will only mitigate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza as long as the US continues to support Israelâ€™s cruel andÂ illegalÂ blockade.
If Warren canâ€™t even name who is doing the blockade, donâ€™t expect her to do anything about it.
Showing absolutely no political courage, Warren promises to â€śoppose incitement to violence and support for terrorism by Palestinian extremists like Hamas.â€ť
This refusal to deal with Hamas as a political force dooms any US effort to failure.
Ignoring Hamasâ€™sÂ serious proposals for breaking the deadlockÂ and repeating Israeli talking points about â€śterrorismâ€ť is not leadership.
As Iâ€™veÂ argued before, if the US had not been willing to deal with the IRA and Sinn Fein, there would have been no Good Friday Agreement in Ireland.
In Afghanistan, the US is negotiating directly with the Taliban â€“ which it accuses of harboring the people who did 9/11 â€“ because it is in the US interest to do so.
Hamas, by contrast, is not an enemy of the United States. It is an enemy of Israel, because Israel occupies and colonizes Palestinian land and kills Palestinians with abandon.
If Warren really believes â€“ as she claims â€“ that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a US interest, she should be ready to deal with all Palestinian parties and tell Israel to do the same.
Finally, Warren pledges to â€śmake clear my unequivocal opposition to Israeli settlement activity and to any moves in the direction of annexation of the West Bank.â€ť
What does that mean? Will she return to the policy of previous administrations of issuing occasional timid statements that settlements are â€śunhelpfulâ€ť while continuing to arm Israel to the tune of billions of dollars each year?
Thatâ€™s what it sounds like.
Contrast her vagueness on Israel with her pledge of â€śreal consequences in terms of a more limited relationshipâ€ť with Saudi Arabia if that absolute monarchy does not meet US â€śexpectations.â€ť
Warren is not making serious proposals when it comes to Palestine and the Israeli question.
In this day and age, babble about a â€śtwo-state solutionâ€ť while ignoring the one-stateÂ apartheidÂ reality is merely a cynical exercise in seeking political cover.
Itâ€™s just Warren saying â€śI have a plan for thatâ€ť while taking absolutely no risks.
There are other troubling signs of what a Warren foreign policy would look like.
Following neoconservative talking points, she labels Venezuelaâ€™s elected President Nicolas Maduro a â€śdictatorâ€ť and endorsesÂ ongoing regime change efforts.
While pledging renewed diplomacy withÂ Iran, she repeats standard Washington talking points blaming Tehran for supporting â€śdestabilizing regional proxies.â€ť
This simplistic claim ignores how Iranian policy has amounted to a defensive response to the utter chaos the US has sowed in the region from invading Iraq and Afghanistan toÂ arming al-Qaida-linked militias in Syria.
A minimally progressive position would be to end the intensifying economic war that the US is waging against the people ofÂ VenezuelaÂ andÂ IranÂ â€“ two countries whose major crime appears to beÂ pursuingÂ independence from the United States.
But Warren fails to offer even that.
Alongside SenatorÂ Bernie Sanders, Warren is seen as one of two â€śprogressiveâ€ť heavyweights in the Democratic race.
Sanders has his ownÂ very mixedÂ record when it comes to Palestinian rights.
He, too, hasÂ pointedly refusedÂ to say he would withdraw the US embassy from Jerusalem.
SandersÂ refusesÂ to endorse BDS â€“ the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, modeled on the campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa.
Like Warren, Sanders takes theÂ minimalist positionÂ of opposing efforts to legislate against BDS.
But Sanders has madeÂ one concrete pledgeÂ no other major candidate has made: to use US military aid to Israel as leverage.
â€śI would sit down with Israel and say, look â€¦ if you want military aid from the United States, youâ€™re going to have to treat the Palestinian people and that region with respect,â€ť Sanders said earlier this year.
Of course, thereâ€™s no guarantee that a President Sanders would actually keep that promise. But in campaign terms, it sets a bare minimum benchmark: Sanders is notÂ thatÂ progressive when it comes to Palestine.
So anyone who doesnâ€™tÂ at leastÂ match his pledge to end unconditional US military funding of Israel is offering nothing notable.
Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is the author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.
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