Blinken and Abbas Discuss Ties, Upcoming Biden Visit, Palestinian President's Office Says

Though Palestinian officials hold little hope of progress on demands they had presented to the Americans, including reopening the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, Biden's visit may be a step toward long-term diplomatic processes, a statement from Abbas' office read

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Palestinian President Mahmou Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in March.Credit: Alex Brandon/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a phone call from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, hours before Yair Lapid formally began his tenure as Israel's new prime minister.

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According to a statement from Abbas' office, the two discussed bilateral ties and preparations for President Joe Biden's visit next month. While Palestinian officials have little hope of any progress on a list of demands the Palestinian Authority presented to the Biden administration, the statement said the presidential visit to the region may be a starting point to promote long-term diplomatic processes.

Though not expecting major breakthroughs before a permanent government is sworn in after Israel's November election, Palestinian officials hope to secure trust-building measures that don't require policy change on Israel's behalf.

According to several senior Palestinian officials, Abbas and other top figures raised demands for confidence-building measures and financial aid back in May 2021, in talks with Blinken.

A key demand was reopening the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, which served the city's Palestinians residents and was closed during the Trump presidency. The consulate is seen by the Palestinian leadership as a sign of the American position on East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the future capital of their state.

Another request was the reopening of the PLO office in Washington, which was similarly shut under former President Donald Trump's orders.

Further demands put forward by the Palestinians include reinstalling Palestinian border agents to the Allenby Bridge crossing, also known as al-Karameh Bridge, which connects the West Bank and Jordan, releasing older Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prison and suspending military raids in Area A of the West Bank which under the Oslo Accords is meant to be under full Palestinian control. Other demands include tourism and commerce projects.

In practice however, one official added, confidence-building measures were hardly taken, save for the upgrading of the cellular grid in the West Bank and allowing Palestinians in the West Bank to reunite with immediate family in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, ordinary Palestinians are increasingly critical of their leaders, who many view as not trying to pressure either Israel or the United States. Members of Fatah and other Palestinian groups noted that the Palestinian National Council had authorized Abbas to take steps like revoking recognition of Israel and stopping security coordination with it, but he has so far refrained from doing so, despite his many threats.

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