US President Joe Biden declared on Friday that he would not abandon attempts to settle the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but he gave no fresh recommendations to restart the two sides’ stalled political engagement.

Before heading for Saudi Arabia, Biden stopped in East Jerusalem to visit a hospital and committed a multi-year $100 million package of financial and technical assistance.

However, after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, he admitted that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state remained a long-term goal.

“Even if the ground is not ready to restart negotiations at this time,” he added, “the United States and my administration will not give up on bringing Palestinians and Israelis and both sides closer together.”

According to Abbas, possibilities for a two-state solution to the conflict, as advocated by the US and other international organisations such as the UN, are fading, and the possibility “may not remain for a long time”

“Is it not time for this occupation to end?” Abbas said.

He reaffirmed demands that the US establish a consulate in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians desire as the capital of a future independent state, and that the Palestine Liberation Organization be removed from a list of terrorist organizations and allowed to reopen an office in Washington.

He also requested US assistance in apprehending the perpetrators of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American citizen slain during an Israeli assault on the West Bank city of Jenin.

Although a White House statement indicated the US had not altered its view that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that its particular limits would have to be discussed by the two parties, Abbas reiterated the Palestinian desire for East Jerusalem to become their capital.

According to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the two leaders addressed the consulate problem, and the government wants to reopen the consulate in the city’s west that was shuttered by previous President Donald Trump. However, no public pronouncements were made throughout the trip.

Prior to his arrival, Palestinian officials accused Biden of putting Israel’s integration into a regional security agreement with Arab nations ahead of their concerns, such as self-determination and ongoing Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, which Israel captured after a 1967 war.

Source: Reuters


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