The election of a new president of the US, Joe Biden, occurred with widespread Jewish support in several swing states. The time has come to ask how the new president can express appreciation to his Jewish constituency.
Firstly, Biden can launch his presidency with decisive actions against a threat to lives of all Jews. Jewish supporters of Biden can ask him to do what no other US president has done: to demand the repeal of the statute enacted by the Palestinian Authority in 2015, which created the first legislation in history to foster an unprecedented law that formally honors anyone who murders a Jew, anywhere in the world, with a lifelong gratuity.
That unprecedented PA fee for murdering a Jew is granted to the killer and to the family of the assailant for life. Biden’s Jewish constituency can ask him to condition support for a Palestinian entity on a demand that the PA nullify legislation that provides automatic fees for anyone who murders a Jew.
Biden’s Jewish constituency can remind the new president that under the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act of 1995 (commonly known as MEPFA), the US Congress provided authorities, requirements, and re strictions to specific standards and expectations when dealing with the PA.
These constraints – enacted during the administration of a Democratic president, Bill Clinton – determined that the new president and the new Congress must continuously certify that the PLO and its administrative arm, the PA, abide by commitments made in good faith to implement Declaration of Principles of the Oslo Peace process and specifically “the PLO commitments relevant to Presidential certifications have included commitments to renounce and condemn terrorism, to submit to the Palestinian National Council for former approval the necessary changes to those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which call for Israel’s destruc tion, and to prevent acts of terrorism and hostilities against Israel.”
Jewish peace supporters of the new president can hold him to the re quirements of the MEPFA legislation – to meet with the appropriate US Congressional committees that are supposed to oversee the denunciation of terrorism and commitment to peace by the PA, which assert that “the President also has the obligation to continuously monitor and ensure that the PA has complied with all of its commitments, as expressly stated in SEC 604 (b)(4). In addition, the president is required to recertify these findings to Congress every six months.”
That recertification process includes, among other requirements, “halt ing all anti-American and anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Author ity-controlled electronic and print media and in schools, mosques, and other institutions it controls, and replacing educational materials, includ ing textbooks, with materials that promote peace, tolerance and coexis tence with Israel.”
That very American law mandates Biden to determine whether or not the PA is affiliated or in works with Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization. If the president suspects such things, he shall “urge mem bers of the international community to avoid contact with and refrain from supporting the terrorist organization Hamas until it agrees to rec ognize Israel, renounce violence, disarm, and accept prior agreements.” Pursuant to the limitation on assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, US law mandates that foreign assistance funds from the US for the benefit of the PA can only be provided if the new secretary of state certifies to the appropriate committees in Congress that the PA, PLO, or their affiliates have taken certain actions in the pursuit of peace. This certification is required every 180 days.
Meanwhile, Biden’s Jewish enthusiasts, who deeply care about the future of the Palestinian Arab entity, can ask the new Biden administra tion to pursue a new policy toward UNRWA, which does not allow yet another US administration to witness five million descendants of Arab refugees of the 1948 war confined to the indignity of refugee camps for perpetuity, under the false hope of the right of return to villages that ex isted 73 years ago.
The peace camp that supported the Biden candidacy can push the new administration to ask UNRWA to adopt the principles of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – which apply to all other refugees around the world – and order UNRWA to permanently resettle Arab refugees from the 1948 war.
In short, there is much the Biden administration can do if it wants to establish a Middle East legacy that will last a lifetime.
Now is the time for a new president to launch a courageous initiative to eliminate a root cause of Middle East violence, and remove the label “refugee” from millions of Palestinian Arabs who have been marked with that status since 1949. ■
The writer is director of the Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research
THE JERUSALEM REPORT JANUARY 25, 2021