Biden moves to reengage with Palestinians after Israel focus


WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration is slowly but steadily moving towards re-engagement with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four-year tenure.

As US officials plan steps to reestablish direct ties with Palestinian leadership, the Biden national security The team is taking action to restore relations that were broken as Trump pursued a Middle East policy primarily focused on Israel, America’s closest partner in the region.

On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, the Biden administration categorically adopted a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something Trump had been deliberately vague on by cutting aid to the Palestinians and taking action. to support Israel’s land claims. that the Palestinians want for an independent state.

The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-led committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to Palestinians. Although little known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called ad hoc liaison committee has played an important role in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.

“During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to promote prosperity, security, and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state, ”the State Department said in a statement.

The United States underscored the commitment to support economic and humanitarian aid and the need to see progress on exceptional projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral measures that render a two-state solution more difficult to resolve. achieve, ”he said.

The US participation in the meeting follows an appeal on Monday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s Foreign Minister in which Blinken stressed that the new US administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has avoided the two-state solution.

Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspect and suggesting a major realignment in US policy. Blinken, however, has twice spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi amid lingering concerns in Israel over Biden’s intentions in the region, particularly his desire to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. .

In Monday’s appeal, Blinken “underscored the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace in the sides of a viable and democratic Palestinian state, ”said State Department spokesman Ned Price. .

The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, although it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on land and sovereignty.

The Palestinians, however, rejected it outright and accused the United States of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moved the US embassy – United in the city of Tel Aviv, cut aid to the Palestinian Authority, shut down the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, and quashed a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law,

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