Blinken visit… timely or timed out?

Blinken visit… timely or timed out? 

My inbox and timeline suddenly flooded with calls to protest against the US Secretary of State Blinken’s visit in the last few days. I must have been missing something, I thought. This was not even his first visit. Why do we suddenly care about the American bias toward Israel? Was it ok for the US to be biased when it was not the Netanyahu government? 

I was puzzled by the attention to the visit. There is more going on in the street than thinking about a Blinken visit, I thought. 

Seriously, who thinks about it? 

What did the Palestinians expect from this US government? Fixing what trump has ruined? Unfortunately, only one thing happened: Opening the spigot of USAID money again with a focus on businesses and some aspects of Civil Society, as well as the portion of the Aid disbursed in a way that was meant to alleviate the Palestinian authority’s liquidity hardship. The result has been, by and large, of little consequence to citizens while making richer, business tycoons, and the usual suspects in civil society organizations that have no impact on the ground. 

Even in the ‘good old days’ when the patterns of spending were somewhat better, the result was, among other things, roads and structures with huge billboards thanking the USAID and the American people, which were washed away with the first rain of winter. 

by all indications, the stage was set for this approach to continue during Blinken’s visit.

Unfortuitously however, the killing of 7 Israelis last Friday was not foreseen when Blinken’s trip was planned, not that the killing of 12 Palestinians the day before in Jenin was a showstopper. All of that led to a reshuffle of things to say, and suddenly “de-escalation and a calming of the situation” featured dominantly in United States public statements.

One can only speculate as to what that meant when it came to the discussions the American held with Netanyahu. By sharp contrast, it did not come as much of a surprise when it became known that the Americans’ main ask of Abbas was to annul his decision to stop the security coordination with Israel.

 There are many things that are wrong with this, not the least of which is that the Americans repeatedly and knowingly fall for Abbas’s recirculation of declaratory pronouncements smack of despair and threat of retaliation. What they should have been doing all along, instead, was to listen to ordinary Palestinians, who, far from falling for the folly of the repeated Palestinian Authority threats, see them as nothing but a thinly veiled act of covering up for the state of incompetence, abuse, and corruption it has become. 

All the while, these shortcomings of the Palestinian Authority which take on a variety of forms, including the selective and capricious application of the law and restrictions on free speech and other basic rights of citizenship, not to mention continuing to deny citizens the right to choose their leadership, continue to go conveniently overlooked by the United States and other key international players, including the European Union.

To be specific, this has translated into, among other horrible things, acting as if the murder of Nizar Banat never took place. And as if torture and illegal detention are not common and running practices. This gross and malicious neglect makes a mockery of these donors’ continued funding of initiatives that they say are intended to safeguard and promote human rights and good governance. 

So long as Israelis are safe and sound, and their state is flourishing and normalizing… business will always be as usual. 

Somehow, what happened in Jerusalem last Friday is yet another time when “Someone” decides to leave the herd and become a “lone wolf” instead. 

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