Palestinians warn against pinning hopes on Biden visit

Senior Palestinian officials said that they did not expect the Biden visit to bring about a breakthrough in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

 US President Joe Biden attends the Quad leaders’ summit, in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2022. (photo credit: YUICHI YAMAZAKI/POOL VIA REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden attends the Quad leaders’ summit, in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2022.
(photo credit: YUICHI YAMAZAKI/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Palestinian officials are scheduled to hold meetings in Ramallah over the next 48 hours to discuss US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the region, and the Israeli “escalation” in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The meetings of the PLO Executive Committee and Fatah Central Council will be chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has expressed hope that Biden’s visit would help create a “political horizon” between the Palestinians and Israel.

“US President Biden will visit us, and I will ask him only one thing - to fulfill what he promised.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas also expressed hope that Biden would fulfill his promises to the Palestinians, especially regarding reopening the US Consulate in Jerusalem, which was closed by the Trump administration in 2018.

Senior Palestinian officials, however, said they did not expect Biden’s visit to bring about a breakthrough in the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and warned the Palestinian leadership against pinning high hopes on the Biden administration. They also called for severing ties with Israel.

 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in March. The Biden administration treats leaders of the PA as children or worse, says the writer. (credit: Jacquelyn Martin/Reuters) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in March. The Biden administration treats leaders of the PA as children or worse, says the writer. (credit: Jacquelyn Martin/Reuters)

Dalal Salameh, a senior Fatah official, said that the Palestinian leaders will discuss “taking practical steps on the ground and the implementation of previous resolutions in light of the continuation of the occupation’s crimes.”

Salameh was referring to resolutions taken by the PLO Central Council to halt security coordination with Israel, and to suspend agreements signed between the PLO and Israel.

“US President Biden will visit us, and I will ask him only one thing: to fulfill what he promised,” Abbas said earlier this week. “I will not ask him for anything new. I will only ask him to implement what he and Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken promised.”

Abbas said that he will also demand the removal of the PLO from the US list of terrorist organizations, and that there was no reason why the US should not comply with the request, especially since it has a security agreement with the Palestinians to combat global terrorism.

According to Abbas, Biden told him that he is opposed to the “deportation of the Palestinians, changing the historical status of the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), settlement expansion, and unilateral actions by both [Israeli and Palestinian] parties.”

Abbas said that Blinken and other State Department officials informed him that the promises will be implemented during Biden’s visit.

“We hope that this visit would strengthen our bilateral relations and contribute to preparing the atmosphere for creating a political horizon that achieves a just and comprehensive peace based on the foundations of international legitimacy, and on the basis of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders,” Abbas said.

A member of the PLO Executive Committee said that the Palestinians should not expect Biden to carry anything new during his visit to the region.

“We haven’t seen any real change in the position of the Biden administration,” the official said. “The Americans made many promises but failed to carry them out. In the wake of the latest political developments in Israel, it is unlikely that the Biden administration would be able to exert any pressure on Israel.”

A veteran Fatah official said that Biden’s visit was mainly aimed at promoting normalization between Israel and some Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia. “The Biden administration does not care about the Palestinians,” he said. “It seems to be more interested in security-related issues in the Middle East.”

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine weighs in

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), one of the PLO factions, also warned against pinning high hopes on Biden’s visit.

“The Biden administration has breached all the promises it made to the Palestinians, including reopening the PLO mission in Washington, dropping it from the terrorism list, and resuming aid to the Palestinian Authority,” the DFLP said.

It called on the Palestinian leadership to stop relying on an American initiative to resume negotiations, and to be wary of efforts “to improve the economic and financial conditions of the Palestinians within the framework of the well-known economic solution.”

The DFLP dismissed the Palestinian leadership’s talk about the need for a “political horizon,” arguing that the Biden administration was not interested in the issue, and is focusing its attention on achieving American-Israeli interests in the region.

“Our people and their cause do not need a ‘political horizon’ devised by the US for their cause,” the group said.

Essam Bakr, a member of the Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s legislative body, warned that Biden’s visit “carries great risks for the future of the national cause of the Palestinian people.

A senior official with the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party, Bakr claimed that the visit aims to facilitate the “integration” of Israel into the region. He too expressed opposition to the talk about “improving the living conditions of the Palestinians as an alternative to achieving the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people.”