Palestinian officials on Wednesday welcomed the decision by US President Joe Biden’s administration to renew relations with the Palestinians as a “positive step in the right direction.”
The officials said that they were not surprised by the decision as the Palestinian Authority had received “assurances” before the last US presidential election that Biden, if elected, would reverse some of the decisions pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that were taken by former president Donald Trump’s administration.
The Palestinians boycotted the Trump administration after its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
The officials expressed hope that the Biden administration would fully endorse PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan for convening an international conference for peace in the Middle East and pressure Israel to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 and halt settlement construction.
Adopted in 2016, the resolution condemns the construction and expansion of settlements and calls for a freeze of all settlement activity, including “natural growth,” and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
On Tuesday, US envoy Richard Mills told the Security Council that the new administration plans to take “steps to reopen diplomatic missions that were closed by the last US administration,” an apparent reference to the PLO mission in Washington and the US consulate in east Jerusalem, which had provided direct lines of communications between the Palestinians and Washington.
“The Biden administration will restore credible US engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis,” Mills said. “This will involve renewing US relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people, relations which have atrophied over the last four years. President Biden has been clear in his intent to restore US assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.”
In response, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinians were “deeply satisfied” by the US official’s announcement.
“We have emphasized our readiness to restore contacts with the new US administration,” the official said. “We are looking forward to working with the Biden administration and to resuming the peace process [with Israel] on the basis of the two-state solution and international resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict.”
According to the official, the Palestinians expect the Biden administration to adopt a “completely different policy” toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than the one endorsed by the Trump administration.
He also praised as “courageous” the decision to resume US financial aid to the Palestinians.
Another official told the Post that the Palestinians also expect the Biden administration to endorse Abbas’s plan for holding an international conference under the auspices of the Quartet (US, Russia, UN and European Union) and other international parties.
“This is the only way to salvage the two-state solution,” the official explained. “We are optimistic about the new policy of the Biden administration.”
PLO official Ahmed Majdalani also welcomed the Biden administration’s new policy toward the Palestinians. “We have received indications that the Biden administration is opposed to unilateral measures that obstruct the two-state solution,” he told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station.
The Biden administration’s new approach, he added, strengthens Washington’s credibility and is an important step toward resuming American-Palestinian relations and the peace process on the basis of the two-state solution and the implementation of international resolutions.