The Biden administration has chosen to halt funding for Israeli institutions and universities situated on the occupied Palestinian territories, essentially nullifying a move by the previous Trump administration. The latter had declined to agree with the global consensus that Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank since 1967.
The new directives for U.S. government agencies state that, “Engagement in bilateral scientific and technological cooperation with Israel in the geographic regions that came under Israeli administration after 1967, which are still subject to final-status negotiations, contradicts the foreign policy of the United States,” according to Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State.
Moreover, the spokesperson emphasized that the U.S. “greatly values scientific and technological cooperation with Israel,” adding that restrictions on scientific research funding in the West Bank “reflects the long-standing U.S. position.”
The decision particularly impacts Ariel University, a significant academic institution established in 1982 on newly settled territories in the West Bank at that time. This move, however, was swiftly criticized by members of the Republican Party.
In this context, Senator Ted Cruz criticized what he termed “anti-Semitic discrimination” against Jews in the West Bank, claiming that the Biden administration is “obsessively undermining Israel.”
Meanwhile, David Friedman, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel during Trump’s tenure and a supporter of Ariel University, accused the Biden administration of adopting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement’s propositions against Israel.
On its part, the Biden administration states that it opposes the BDS movement, which calls for severing ties with all of Israel, not just the settlements. It should be noted that during the tenure of Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State, Washington took actions favoring Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including permitting their products to be labeled as “Made in Israel.”
Later, the Biden administration reverted to the traditional U.S. stance advocating a two-state solution and criticizing settlement expansion.
Additionally, Washington has ceased any substantial effort in peace negotiations, considering the chances of success extremely slim under the rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history.