Abbas, Biden Fail to Bridge Differences, Will Make Separate Statements in West Bank Visit

'It's clear that the administration has no vision and expects the Palestinians to just toe the line with whatever they offer – and this is unacceptable,' a senior Palestinian official says, as President Biden kicks off his Mideast tour

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Joe Biden will give separate statements in Bethlehem on Friday, after their representatives were unable to agree on the wording of a summary statement, Palestinian sources said.

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Ramallah closely followed Biden’s speech upon landing on Wednesday at Ben-Gurion International Airport, in which he briefly mentioned the two-state solution. Palestinian minister and member of the PLO Executive Committee, Ahmad Majdalani, said that Biden’s words are meaningless as long as there are no practical steps to implement the two-state solution on the ground.

Majdalani added that the Biden administration is pushing for Israeli normalization with more Arab countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia, in order to isolate the Palestinians. “Those who strive for a two-state solution should act on the ground and strengthen the Palestinian Authority in practice, and not with a vague statement,” he added.

This past week Palestinian figures have voiced frustration that Biden intends to address only economic issues with no reference to diplomatic topics. A senior Palestinian figure said that “it's clear that the administration has no vision and expects the Palestinians to just toe the line with whatever they offer – and this is unacceptable.”

A billboard saying 'Mr. president, this is apartheid' in Bethlehem, ahead of President Joe Biden's visit, on Wednesday.Credit: Mahmoud Illean/AP

“This administration, quite clearly, has adopted the policy of the former Trump administration regarding the Palestinians,” he said. “In practice the American consulate in East Jerusalem has not been opened, the PLO’s offices in Washington have not been opened, and the PLO is still defined as a terror organization in the United States. The American administration is still holding back direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority and adopts the Israeli position regarding salaries for Palestinian prisoners and a host of other issues.”

Dr. Mustafa al-Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative movement, added: “Biden said that he’s a Zionist, that he supports Israel as a Jewish state and a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He may say that he wants to discuss the two-state solution, but how and when? No-one knows. This means that there is nothing on the horizon. On the contrary, there is a rush to regional agreements, mostly with Arab countries, and to the creation of new alliances to further isolate the Palestinians.”

Calls to participate in rallies on Thursday and Friday in Ramallah and Bethlehem with black flags and photos of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh saying "Justice for Shireen." This, following the U.S. State Department announcement last week saying that it cannot be determined conclusively who killed the journalist, but added that it is likely that the fire came from IDF positions.

Biden is slated to visit East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday before he flies directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

The examination took place after the Palestinians handed the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to the Americans. The IDF Spokesperson contradicted statements made by Palestinians last week that Israel is not involved in examining the bullet, and said that the examination was conducted by the IDF with American presence.

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