Biden to step up engagement with Palestinians – media — Analysis

According to reports, the US State Department plans to increase diplomatic outreach to Palestinians

According to Times of Israel: The Joe Biden Administration is developing plans to increase its diplomatic outreach towards the Palestinians. It will soon appoint the special representative to the US State Department. 

The White House is going to promote Hady Amr (Deputy Assistant Secretary of States for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs) to special envoy status to help lead these efforts. This was reported by the Times on Sunday. The official will be working alongside the Palestinian Affairs Unit, currently under the US Embassy. 

Though the State Department previously signaled that it would reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem after former President Donald Trump shuttered the facility – the de facto diplomatic office for US-Palestinian relations – that plan has been “effectively shelved”Since the end of last year. The Times was told by diplomats in December that no decision had been reached on the issue. But it is clear that little progress has been made. 

Sunday’s report is not the first sign the Biden team could be seeking a reset with the Palestinian leadership following an overtly hostile Trump administration, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently proposing ways to bring Ramallah into future normalization deals with Tel Aviv under the purview of the Abraham Accords – a series of agreements reached between Israel and a number of regional rivals beginning in 2020.

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Earlier this month, Blinken made a hint at the goal in a summit between Washington and Abraham Accords signatories. This suggested that both countries should work towards it. “support the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people in concrete ways and have a positive impact on the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Although there were plans for diplomatic engagement to be improved, Palestinian officials expressed increasing pessimism about the Biden administration. Others noted that Washington is more concerned with the Ukraine war.

“We are still waiting for the fulfillment of this administration’s promises to us. Now, particularly with the Ukraine-Russian crisis, [the US] will not advance any tangible, concrete steps,”Ahmad Majdalani, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization told The Times that he added “They prefer to focus on so-called regional peace and normalization rather than Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Biden will visit Israel and the Occupied West Bank in October, which is his first presidential trip to that region. He will also meet Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and President Mahmoud Abdul Basar. Due to rising tensions, the planned visit was also announced. This follows the tragic death of Shireen Ab Akleh (Palestinian-American journalist), who died while covering an attack in the West Bank.

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