The Biden administration announced Tuesday it was resuming relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of the Trump administration’s approach and a key element of its support for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills made the announcement at a high-level Security Council meeting, saying the new U.S. administration believes this “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.”
President Donald Trump’s administration provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv and acknowledging Israeli settlements on land sought by the Palestinians.
Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967. The Palestinians want the areas as parts of a future independent state.
“Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” Mills said.
Mills said peace can’t be imposed on either side and stressed that progress and an ultimate solution will require the participation and agreement of Israelis and Palestinians.
“In order to advance these objectives, the Biden administration will restore credible U.S. engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis,” he said.
“President Biden has been clear that he intends to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic relations that were closed by the last U.S. administration,” Mills said.
Trump cut off funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which was established to aid the Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes around the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948.
The Trump administration also closed the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington in September 2018.
Mills said that “the U.S. will maintain its steadfast support for Israel,” opposing one-sided resolutions that unfairly single out Israel and promoting Israel’s standing and participation at the U.N. and other international organizations.
The Biden administration welcomes the Trump administration’s recent negotiation of peace between Israel and a number of Arab nations and will urge other countries to establish ties, Mills said.
“Yet, we recognize that Arab-Israeli normalization is not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he said.
Before Mills spoke, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki criticized the Trump administration for using “the United States’ might and influence to support Israel’s unlawful efforts to entrench its occupation and control” and reiterated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ hopes “for the resumption of relations and positive engagement.”
“Now is the time to heal and repair the damage left by the previous U.S. administration,” he said. “We look forward to the reversal of the unlawful and hostile measures undertaken by the Trump administration and to working together for peace.”
Malki called for an international peace conference “that can signal a turning point in this conflict.” He also expressed hope that “the U.S. will play an important role in multilateral efforts for peace in the Middle East.”
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said “Palestinians suffered from unprecedented pressure from the former U.S. administration” and said the organization’s 22 members look forward to Biden working to relaunch “a serious peace process.”
But Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the council that instead of focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should focus on Iran, which “does not try to hide its intention of destroying the world’s only Jewish state.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he suggested that the council discuss what he called “the real obstacles to peace: Palestinian incitement and culture of hate.”
Israel remains willing to make peace “when there is a willing partner,” Erdan said, accusing Abbas of inciting violence and saying he should come to the negotiating table “without making outrageous demands and not call for another pointless international conference … [which] is just a distraction.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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