Power & Market

Another Presidential Debate, Another Loss for the Palestinians

In a recent article for the Mises Wire, Connor O’Keeffe rightly argues that President Joe Biden indisputably failed at appearing psychologically and physiologically well during the recent presidential debate. O’Keeffe further goes on to write that former President Donald Trump “did a perfectly good job” at looking stable enough against the characterization of him by many democrats as an “unhinged maniac” intent on “tearing the country down.”

If one disregards Biden’s dismal performance, however, Trump’s performance could only be classified as mediocre at best. The mediocrity of Trump’s debate performance can especially be seen during the discussion of foreign policy. While Trump was right to criticize the United States’ excessive involvement in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine (giving over $150 billion to Ukraine, most of which being military aid), Trump’s statements regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict reveal that the United States will unsurprisingly continue to inhibit the peace process regardless of who wins the election. Indeed, statements regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict during the debate illustrate that both candidates intend on continuing direct American intervention.

For instance, Biden touted his three-stage plan, which consists of: (1) a ceasefire in exchange for many of the hostages, (2) a ceasefire with “additional conditions,” which likely refers to the release of all remaining hostages and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, (3) the “end of the war” and beginning the reconstruction of Gaza. Subsequently, Biden claimed that only Hamas desires to continue the war. Lastly, Biden also seemed proud when expressing the fact that the United States is a bigger supporter of Israel “than anyone in the world.” Considering these statements and the Biden administration’s decision to transfer more than one hundred military aid packages to Israel since October 7th, 2023, Biden firmly believes in directly intervening in the conflict.

In opposition to these claims, Trump rightly argued that Israel actually wants to continue the war. Nevertheless, this brief statement of truth was overshadowed by Trump’s subsequent claim that the United States should let Israel “finish the job,” which likely means eradicating Hamas. By letting Israel proceed with their plan for the conflict, Trump’s statement could be interpreted as a sign that a second Trump presidency wouldn’t hold as tight of a grip on Israel and their actions. However, similar to Biden’s belief in continuous American intervention, Trump’s previous insistence on being involved in the conflict and his general reluctance towards the creation of a contiguous and fair Palestinian state sheds light on the fact that he would also perpetuate direct American involvement in the conflict, worsening relations between Israelis and Palestinians in the long term. Whether Biden or Trump wins the upcoming election, direct and harmful intervention (veiled by the facade of “procuring peace”) in the region is inevitable.

In a 1967 article entitled “War Guilt in the Middle East,” Murray Rothbard argues that American involvement in the conflict “has been even more unlovely” than Israel’s. Rothbard condemns the United States’ willingness to give Israel aid whenever it needs, eventually claiming that Israel is “the ally and satellite of the U. S.” in the Middle East. Looking at the history of the conflict, Rothbard is undeniably correct. When attempting to procure peace, American involvement in the conflict has either miserably failed or has been disastrous.

According to Rothbard, the United States pressured the United Nations to approve of the 1947 partition plan, which divided Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. This partition plan allocated 42 percent of the land towards an Arab state and 55 percent of the land towards a Jewish state. After the Palestinian Arabs rejected the partition plan, the Palestinian Arabs launched a civil war on the Palestinian Jews, which started on November 30th, 1947. Due to this initial conflict and the subsequent attacks by neighboring Arab countries beginning on May 15, 1948, around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced. While there was no “master plan” to transfer the Palestinian Arabs, many were forcibly expelled from their homes by Israeli forces, although the majority of Arabs simply fled because of the conflict or the threat of it.

For a more recent example of catastrophic American intervention in an attempt to procure peace in the conflict, one only needs to look at how the administration of George W. Bush helped Hamas gain authority over Gaza. After Israeli settlements and forces were removed from Gaza in 2005, the United States, as former Texas congressman Ron Paul correctly articulated, “encouraged the Palestinians to have a free election.” After attempting to impose democracy on the Palestinians, the Palestinians ended up electing Hamas, who started ruling over Gaza in 2007. It is ironic that the United States encouraged Hamas to gain power, especially since Hamas is painted as a terrorist group by Israel and the United States.

Although Trump has continuously bragged about his negotiating skills, the Israel-Palestine conflict also worsened under his administration. According to historian Avi Shlaim, the Palestinians reacted with hostility towards the Abraham Accords (which normalized relations between Israel and multiple Arab countries) because it was perceived as “a betrayal of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and even as a stab in the back.” The Palestinians, according to Shlaim, perceived the Abraham Accords in this manner because it was a sign that Israel could negotiate with multiple Arab states without “ending its occupation of Palestinian land.” Relations between Israelis and Palestinians also worsened because of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his absurd peace plan that only allocated 15 percent of non-contiguous, demilitarized land of historic Palestine to the Palestinians, while allowing Israel to annex a majority of illegal settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinians rightly rejected this peace plan, and Trump’s involvement in the conflict is another example of how American intervention in the conflict has worsened it.

Under the Biden administration’s support for Israel, over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, although the exact number of Hamas and civilian casualties is vehemently debated. Regardless, American involvement has led to more Palestinian deaths and has generally worsened the conflict. American leaders should learn from past mistakes and stop intervening in the conflict. Israel is a formidable state capable of defending itself, especially as it is the only state in the Middle East with nuclear weapons.

Instead of looking towards the future in the hopes of negotiating a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the United States should look to the past and heed the words contained within George Washington’s Farewell Address: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

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