Occupied Palestine (QNN)- Palestinian reactions to Joe Biden’s election have varied. From official positive expectations to skeptic positions expressed by different political factions, to a mixture of irony and disillusion circulating social media, the latest race to the US presidency has proved to be at the forefront of Palestinians’ attention.
Following the announcement of Biden’s victory, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued an official congratulation to the US president-elect, stating that he is “looking forward to strengthening relations between Palestine and the US, hoping to achieve freedom and independence to the Palestinian people, in addition to working together towards peace”.
On his side, the head of Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyah, called upon the new president to “make a historical correction of the US unjust policies towards our people. Policies which have made the US an accomplice in the injustice and the aggression, jeopardizing world stability”.
The Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine, on the other hand, seemed more dismissive in a press release it issued, stating that “The election of Biden does not promise any change towards the Palestinian cause or any of the Arab causes”. The PFLP also warned against “any false illusions that Biden may give about returning to negotiations, which can not achieve any of our people’s rights”.
In a similar position, the Islamic Jihad Movement’s spokesperson, Daoud Shihab, said his movement “does not hold any hopes from the election of a new president, and does not expect any changes in the US policies towards the Palestinian cause”. Adding that “there is so much that the US should do if it wants to correct its black history in relation to Arab and Islamic nations, and the Palestinian people in particular”. Shihab also said that “the Palestinian people will never forget what the Trump administration did, by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, falsely claiming it to be the capital of Israel”.
In addition to official reactions, Palestinians on social media have been commenting on the elections in a more satirical way. Memes and posts portraying Donald Trump’s electoral defeat have overwhelmed Facebook and Twitter, often comparing Trump’s attitude of denial to that of despotic Arab leaders. Some memes showed trump asking Netanyahu if he could offer him a job, or in a popular market place selling vegetables, a work that in Palestinian popular culture is an indication of being jobless.
“From the edge of the clif to the edge of disaster”
On a more serious tone, Palestinian Facebook accounts have been expressing different points of view regarding the change in the White House, all focusing on the possible impact of the new US presidency on the Palestinian cause. Palestinian journalist Mohamad Hamayel journalist wrote on his Facebook account “To those who are celebrating the US election results, I can understand if you are happy for Trump’s defeat. But if you expect Biden to liberate Al Aqsa, I have bad news for you. Biden will serve his own people and no one else, and those who expect magical solutions to come from Biden are misled”.
Palestinian academic in birzeit University, Hunaida Ghanem, explained on her facebook account her view of the US president change; “Moving from Trump to Biden is moving from the edge of the clif to the edge of the disaster. It’s a little different of course, but things are relative”.
In more direct words, Palestinian filmmaker Ala Hamdan commented on Biden’s election; “Frankly, Biden’s victory isn’t a goal in itself, but rather the defeat of Trump, and all those who with his support have wreaked the earth with injustices! Biden has won, the title of this new phase is: May God help us!”
Past experiences and the continuity of occupation
While historical experiences give Palestinians very little hopes of any change in Washington’s policy towards Palestine, Biden’s stands and declarations during his campaign seem only to reinforce this skepticism. He has vowed to maintain the US embassy in Jerusalem as well to maintain the US military aid to the occupation state. He also made it clear that he will keep his differences with the Israeli leaders, namely concerning Israeli plans of annexing parts of the West Bank, behind closed doors.
Simultaneously, on the other hand, the Palestinian Authority leadership does have something to hope for, after being effectively excluded by Trump from any discussions regarding his policies towards the conflict. Although Biden has made it clear that he will not publicly push against Israeli annexation plans, he did promise to “reverse” the distancing between the US and the PA, caused by Trump’s policies. For many Palestinian officials, this could mean a chance to return to negotiations. On the ground, however, the reality of occupation and settlement expansion seems to be the only thing unaffected by the change in the White House.