Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signaled interest in strengthening ties with the Biden administration when he welcomed U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Ramallah last week for talks on bilateral relations.
During the meeting, Sullivan stressed America’s continued support of the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Ramallah’s official news agency, WAFA, reported that Abbas briefed Sullivan on “the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and the need to end the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine.”
Abbas reportedly also urged Sullivan to stop the expansion of Israeli communities in the contested West Bank and halt reported evictions of Arab residents from East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
“The president stressed the need to stop these unilateral Israeli practices that undermine the two-state solution,” Abbas’ office stated.
The PA has not been overly committed to the two-state solution. Abbas recently criticized the Arab-Israeli Knesset Mansour Abbas (no relation) for his statements that show acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.
“The State of Israel was born as a Jewish state, and it will remain one,” Mansour Abbas told the Israeli business news outlet Globes on Tuesday.
By contrast, the PA refuses to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“These irresponsible statements are consistent with the calls of extremists in Israel to displace the Palestinians and harm the status of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and the history of the Palestinian people,” Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement.
The Palestinian leader also accused the Arab Israeli politician of “betraying” the Arab population in the West Bank and Gaza.
“It is unfortunate that instead of siding with the rights of his people and condemning the settlements, killings and displacement committed by the occupation and the plans of Israeli extremists to empty Palestinian lands, we see him repeating the lies of the Zionist movement,” the statement continued.
Ramallah recently resumed diplomatic ties with Washington after a four-year boycott following the former administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017. The PA was also upset over several decisions out of Washington including moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.
Realizing that these decisions are likely to remain, the PA is focusing instead on pressuring Washington to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which dealt with U.S.-PA relations as well as reopening the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic mission in the United States. The Biden administration has signaled its willingness to accept Ramallah’s demands but it has been met with fierce opposition from the Israeli government.
A stumbling block to improved ties between the two has been the PA’s controversial policy of paying stipends to terrorists who murder Israelis. Like former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has also demanded an end to this policy.
“On the question of payments, we’ve had a clear and consistent position on this: that we’re fundamentally opposed to those payments. And so, I’m sure that’ll be a topic of discussion as well,” a senior U.S. administration official stated prior to the meeting between Sullivan and Abbas.
During the meeting with Sullivan, Abbas reportedly demanded that Israel stop deducting funds from tax transfers as a punitive policy for Ramallah’s financing of terrorism against Israelis.