WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will restore diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority, more than two years after President Donald J. Trump effectively eliminated him. The action signals the return of a more traditional and thinking-savvy approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the Trump administration’s policy that was overwhelmingly toward Israel.
The shift, which will include the resumption of US aid to the Palestinians, was announced in a speech by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills on Tuesday.
Mr. Mills also reaffirmed support for a “mutually agreed, two-state solution” between Israelis and Palestinians, “in which Israel remains in peace and security with a viable Palestinian state.” And he called on the parties to avoid unilateral actions, such as the cancellation of territory and settlement activity by Israel, or incitement of violence by Palestinians, which could make such an outcome more difficult.
Analysts and regional leaders say the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal are slim for decades. Parties have stopped all but communication, with Palestinian leaders rejecting the peace plan introduced by the Trump White House last year, and the issue is not among Mr. Biden’s top foreign policy priorities.
But the announcement is part of a broader return to previous United States foreign policy practices under Mr. Biden, and an end to open hostility between Washington and the Palestinians by the Trump administration. Directed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Min. Trump adopted an openly punitive attitude towards the Palestinians and took little advantage, with the goal of forcing Israel to make concessions.
The policy change was quickly hailed by Palestinian leaders and supporters of a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The administration needs to take such swift action to restore American credibility as a diplomatic mediator between Israelis and Palestinians,” said Jeremy Ben-Aimee, a liberal advocate on J Street. Palestinians. “Begins with reestablishing a working relationship with the Palestinian leadership and the people, following the terrible damage done by the Trump administration.”
Mr. Mills said the Biden administration would “take steps to reopen diplomatic missions closed by previous US administrations,” without offering any nuances. In addition to closing the Palestinian Mission in Washington in September 2018, the Trump administration also closed the United States Consulate in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Biden has no direct way to reopen the Palestinian mission in Washington. A law passed by Congress in 1987 blocked the Palestinians’ right to open an office in the US. Successful presidents were able to circumvent the law with a waiver, but subsequent legislation passed in 2015 and 2018 limits the president’s ability to circumvent the earlier ban.
Despite this announcement it was warmly welcomed by Palestinian officials, who see the tone of the Biden administration as a welcome to the cold shoulder introduced by Mr. Trump.
“For the first time, President Biden’s administration has officially expressed its position towards the peace process and the two-state solution,” said Ahmed Mazaldani, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Minister of Social Development at the Palestinian Authority. Announcement response. “We believe that this situation is an important positive step on the road to restoring US-Palestinian bilateral relations and opens wider gates to restore the peace process within the framework of multilateral international sponsorship.”
Mr. Mills also said that Mr. Biden intended to “restore American aid programs supporting economic development and humanitarian aid for the people of Palestine.”
In 2018 the Trump administration cut $ 200 million in economic aid to Palestinians and halted nearly $ 350 million in annual funding for the United Nations agency that aids Palestinian refugees.
“We do not see these steps in favor of the Palestinian leadership,” he said. “American aid benefits millions of ordinary Palestinians and helps maintain a stable environment that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis.”
At the same time, Mr. Trump ended Washington’s opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, although he did not support talk of regional destruction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As an alternative, the Trump administration brokered diplomatic agreements between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors in exchange for assurances from Mr. Netanyahu that he would not pursue annexation for now, though he has not dropped the idea. The Israeli leader now faces a national election for the fourth time in two years after Israel’s coalition government failed to hold together.
In his remarks at the UN Security Council, Mr Mills said the Biden administration “welcomes recent normalization agreements” between Israel and Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. But he said that “Arab-Israeli normalization is not an alternative to Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
He said that “the US will maintain its steadfast support for Israel” and “will continue its long-standing policy of opposing unilateral proposals and other actions in international bodies that unfairly singles out Israel.” While the Democratic Party has made Israeli policies more important in recent years, Mr. Biden’s positions are more focused and he is less quick to criticize the country than other Democrats.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
This month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a program for what would be a Palestinian election for the first time in at least 15 years, in a move that was perceived as an attempt to curry favor with Mr Biden.
Mr. Mills is the American Charge Deafair at the United Nations. Mr. Biden has nominated Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an officer in the career department, to serve as the body’s permanent ambassador.
Patrick kingsley Contributed to reporting from Jerusalem and Mohammad najeeb Ramallah, from the West Bank.