Palestinian Authority awaits Biden’s visit to the region

RAMALLAH, West Bank — American and Arab contacts succeeded in preventing the Palestinian Authority (PA) from moving towards implement certain decisions made by the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) of the PLO regarding relations with Israel and the freezing of recognition of Israel.

A Fatah movement source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that a Jordanian delegation led by Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi met President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on May 31 and handed him a letter from King Abdullah II reiterating the kingdom’s commitment to cooperation on Palestinian issues.

In addition, the source added, there were unexpected Egyptian contacts followed by a call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Abbas May 31. This, he said, has led to the suspension of the implementation of some decisions related to the PA’s relations with Israel.

The source pointed out that the Arab and American contacts aim to give US President Joe Biden a chance to raise all the issues of concern to the Palestinians during his next visit to the region. He added that a delegation from the US State Department is expected to arrive in the region before Biden to organize his visit.

President Abbas said during his meeting with Safadi that “the PA plans to take measures aimed at dealing with the Israeli escalation [in the Palestinian territories] amid the failure of the international community to compel Israel to comply with resolutions on international legitimacy, let alone end its criminal and professional practices and its measures of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination. This comes amid American silence on such Israeli provocations and practices that flagrantly violate international law. »

President Biden was scheduled to travel to both Palestine and Israel on June 23, where he was due to meet Abbas in Bethlehem for the first time since taking office in 2021. Biden’s trip, however, was pushed back until July.

The PA had informed Egypt, Jordan and the United States of its intention to implement the CCP’s decisions to freeze its recognition of the State of Israel as part of efforts to recover its image on the Palestinian scene, as well as to pressure the United States, Israel and countries around the world to initiate a binding political process for Israel.

More than a year after the inauguration of the Biden administration, the PA feels frustrated and neglected by Washington. The AP calls on the US administration to keep his promisesnamely the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem, the removal of the PLO from the list of terrorist organizations, the reopening of the PLO office in Washington and the resumption of financial support for the PA and UNRWA , while pressuring the Israeli government to stop the settlements and start a political process with the Palestinians.

However, according to the Fatah source, “There is not much hope in Biden’s visit, but we have been asked to give him a chance.”

At the national level, the PA is losing popularity for several reasons. Chief among them is its inability to deal with Israeli attacks and incursions into West Bank towns and the accompanying Palestinian home demolitions, killings and arrests. Add to that the PA’s ongoing relationship and security coordination with Israel in the absence of a political process.

In addition, the Palestinians are facing a severe economic crisis caused by a sharp rise in prices, the government’s inability to pay full salaries to employees, the spread of union strikes – the last of which was held by teachers and engineers – and the decline of the leadership role of the PA in favor of the factions in Gaza, namely Hamas. This was demonstrated by the reliance on Hamas over the PA in the response to the flag march that took place in Jerusalem in late May, not to mention the heavy loss suffered by Fatah in the student elections held in Jerusalem. Birzeit University on May 18 against Hamas.

Meanwhile, the PA continues to monopolize leadership appointments, as evidenced by Abbas’ decision on May 26 to appoint Hussein al-Sheikh as secretary of the PLO’s executive committee without consulting members. of the executive committee.

For its part, Sheikh said during a press conference with Safadi on May 31, that the Palestinian leadership is in the last crucial hours to make unprecedented strategic decisions regarding relations with the Israeli government, and “our brothers and friends have been informed of this”.

He added: “We never want to take any action that would threaten security and stability in the region, and we don’t want to be forced to do so. … Our hands are still outstretched.

Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, told Al-Monitor: “In light of the ongoing Israeli escalation in Palestine, the international situation, Western and American positions, the policy of double standards measures as far as the Ukrainian-Russian crisis is concerned, and the distinction between the peoples who have the right to defend themselves and those who do not, the Palestinian situation is no longer bearable, and there was a real tendency to implement the decisions of the CCP.

Majdalani pointed out that “the trend to implement the CCP’s decisions is still on the table pending the meetings scheduled for next week with the US State Department team, and the concrete measures that the United States will present and will treat seriously and not just as promises.But we can [make] the decision even before the visit.

“I personally don’t bet on the US administration, and I think time can’t be wasted because the Biden administration is playing for time,” he said. “I think we would need to assess the results of the US delegation’s visit to see if it would be appropriate to receive and meet with Biden or implement CCP decisions.”

Writer and political analyst Omar Helmy al-Ghoul told Al-Monitor: “Relying on the US administration would be a losing bet. This administration has made many promises but has failed to deliver. Instead, he supported the Bennett government and tolerated settlements and crime under the guise of fearing [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s return to power.

Ghoul added: “There is [parties] in Jordan and some Arab countries who called behind the scenes and hoped that the Palestinian Authority would give Biden a chance before his visit to the region, as did Blinken, who showed his administration’s seriousness in keeping the promises that he had done, including the reopening of the consulate in Jerusalem”.

Ghoul added, “If the Biden administration is serious, it should follow the example and give hope to President Abbas. I think it is time for this to be the last chance for the United States, because the Palestinian people and even President Abbas cannot tolerate the current situation any longer.

Edward N. Arrington