On Wednesday, the Palestinian leadership welcomed the intention of the new US administration headed by Joe Biden to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, which was closed by former President Donald Trump.
The Secretary of the Central Committee of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah), Jibril Rajoub, said in a statement to Agence France-Presse, that “the reopening of the East Jerusalem Consulate, the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, and the commitment to the two-state solution are positive gestures that we welcome.”
The US Chargé d’Affairs to the United Nations, Richard Mills, said yesterday in a video conference of the Security Council that the Biden administration “intends to restore US aid programs directed to the Palestinians, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic missions that were closed by the previous administration.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, is the internationally recognized entity representing the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and the diaspora.
The administration of former President Trump ended funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and closed the Palestinian representation office in Washington, and its general consulate in Jerusalem, which served as an embassy for the Palestinians.
The US decisions came after the Palestinian National Authority stopped its contacts with the Trump administration, following the latter’s announcement at the end of 2017 to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority totally rejected the peace plan proposed by the Trump administration.
Speaking from Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, Rajoub said, “We hope that the new (American) administration will brandish a red card in the face of the unilateral and expansionist Israeli measures … that undermine any possibility of establishing an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.”
In a related context, Anadolu Agency quoted a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Ahmed Majdalani, as saying that the US administration’s decision to reopen the organization’s headquarters in Washington is a “positive and good step, and reflects the new administration’s seriousness in correcting the mistakes of the previous administration (Trump administration).”
Majdalani added that this step also reflects the Biden administration’s position on the peace process based on the two-state solution and negotiations, and avoiding any unilateral move.
The Palestinian official informed that preparations are underway for an official conversation between the Palestinian Presidents Abbas and the American Biden, hoping that it will take place in the near future.
The statements of the US Chargé d’Affairs to the United Nations are the first official clarification of the new US administration about its policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Biden took office on January 20, and the US official stressed that the Biden administration will continue to urge other Arab countries to normalize relations. With Israel, but at the same time it realizes that “there is no alternative to Israeli-Palestinian peace.”