Palestinians urge Biden to appoint Mideast peace envoy

The Palestinian Authority is relieved by the US commitment to a two-state solution.

 Palestinian Authority and Israeli flags (illustrative) (photo credit: Provided by the Lausanne Movement)
Palestinian Authority and Israeli flags (illustrative)
(photo credit: Provided by the Lausanne Movement)

Palestinian officials on Sunday expressed satisfaction with the US administration’s renewed commitment to a two-state solution and called for the appointment of a special American envoy for peace in the Middle East.

The Biden administration believes “a negotiated two-state solution is the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said Friday.

It “has also made clear on numerous occasions that Israelis and Palestinians alike equally deserve to live in security, prosperity and freedom,” she said during a briefing.

“On equality, we’ve said this before that advancing equal measures of freedom and dignity is important in its own right and as a means to advance toward a negotiated two-state solution,” she added. “We’ll continue to focus our efforts on an affirmative and practical approach that is constructive [and] positive steps that help us keep the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution alive.”

Porter’s remarks about the US commitment to a two-state solution came days after the Palestinian Authority criticized Washington for its failure to fulfill promises made to the Palestinians by President Joe Biden. These promises include, among other things, a US commitment to work toward achieving a two-state solution and the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem, which was closed in 2018 by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Palestinian FM Riad Malki at UNESCO 311 R (credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)Palestinian FM Riad Malki at UNESCO 311 R (credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Ahmad Majdalani, a PA cabinet minister and member of the PLO Executive Committee, welcomed Porter’s remarks and called on the Biden administration to appoint a special envoy for peace in the Middle East to revive the stalled peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

The Palestinians were satisfied with the State Department’s position toward a two-state solution, which came while the US is preoccupied with the Russia-Ukraine war, he told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station. His remarks were reported by the German Presse-Agentur news agency.

US officials who recently visited Israel and the West Bank focused during their meetings only on ways of improving the living conditions of the Palestinians, Majdalani said.

Another Palestinian official in Ramallah said Porter’s statements were “very positive.” However, this kind of rhetoric was “insufficient” as long as the US administration does not take real measures to implement the two-state solution and stop Israeli “actions” on the ground, including settlement construction, he said.

Ahmad al-Deek, senior political adviser to PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki, last month told The Jerusalem Post the Palestinians were “astonished” that the Biden administration has not appointed a special envoy for peace in the Middle East.

“We want the US administration to translate its words and stances into deeds and practical measures on the ground to save the two-state solution, create a conducive climate for restoring a political horizon and halt settler assaults [on Palestinians],” Deek said.

Last week, Hady Amr, deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, concluded a trip to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, where he met with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials, as well as members of Israeli and Palestinian civil society and the business community.

Amr “highlighted the need to improve the quality of life for Palestinians and reiterated the Biden administration’s philosophy that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity,” according to a statement issued by the Palestinian Affairs Unit in the US Embassy in Israel. He also emphasized that it is “critical for Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution.”

Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the PLO Executive Committee who met with Amr in Ramallah, on Saturday said: “The world’s credibility is at stake, especially the US and Europe, in implementing the international legitimacy in Palestine.”

His remarks reflect Palestinian concern over the “double standards” of the international community in dealing with the Russia-Ukraine war as opposed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We will never accept half solutions or deceiving international legitimacy with partial solutions to beautify the image of the occupation in our homeland,” Sheikh wrote on Twitter. “Our people will not accept the continuation of the status quo.”

Hamas, meanwhile, warned Palestinians against being “enticed” by so-called economic solutions that “aim to “perpetuate the occupation and deny us our national rights.” The warning came in response to a recent meeting between Palestinian and Israeli businessmen that was organized by the US Embassy in Israel.