In what seems to be a move that could thwart Israel’s exceedingly good relations with the United States during the Trump presidency, the Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was renewing US relations with the Palestinian leadership, and restoring “credible engagement” with the Palestinians, as it works toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills made the announcement of Biden’s new approach in a high-level Security Council meeting, saying the new U.S. administration believes this “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security. In order to advance these objectives the Biden administration will restore credible U.S. engagement with Palestinians as well as Israelis.”
“This will involve renewing U.S. relations with the Palestinian leadership and Palestinian people,” he added.
“President Biden has been clear that he intends to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic relations that were closed by the last U.S. administration.” Mills said.
Going further, Mills specified that Washington will reopen the diplomatic offices serving the Palestinians and restore major aid allocations to the Palestinians, hence reversing Trump administration policies. Former President Donald Trump closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s diplomatic mission in Washington in 2018, against the backdrop of the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of his administration following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In 2019, the Trump administration shuttered the US consulate in Jerusalem, which served as the de-facto embassy to the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The mission was folded into the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and the previous position of consulate-general was dissolved.
As it stands, reopening the PLO mission in Washington would violate Congressional legislation that ordered its shuttering if the Palestinians filed a suit against Israel at the ICC, which they did in 2017. On the other hand, reopening the consulate in Jerusalem would require some degree of permission from the Israeli government, which is not expected to back a move that effectively re-designates the West Bank as a separate entity from Israel.