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Biden Restores Relationship & Aid to Palestinians & Calls for Two-State Solution

The Biden administration announced yesterday that it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing contributions to the U.N. agency that provides them aid, a sharp reversal of Trump administration policy. Richard Mills, acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also informed the UN Security Council that the Biden administration would again seek a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Mills announced the policy changes during a virtual Security Council meeting, arguing that such a solution “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.”

NPR: "The remarks signaled a rejection of then-President Donald Trump's policy of the past four years, which overwhelmingly favored the interests of Israel's right-wing government. The Trump administration closed the Washington, D.C., office of the Palestine Liberation Organization; halted contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants; moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel's capital; recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights; and presented a peace proposal which left all Israeli West Bank settlements in place."

Trump had hoped that his harsh policies would cause such hardship in the occupied territories that Palestinians would be forced to give up their quest for an independent state.

AP: "Trump cut off funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency known as UNRWA, which was established to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948. It provides education, health care, food and other assistance to some 5.5 million refugees and their descendants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The U.S. was UNRWA’s major donor and the loss of funds has created a financial crisis for the agency."

However, Palestinian leaders soundly rejected Trump's one-sided peace proposal despite worsening conditions in Gaza and the West Bank.

Biden's announcement yesterday isn't expected to lead to a breakthrough in the dispute, but it might force Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu back to the negotiating table. After the US announcement, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki called for the revival of the Quartet of Mideast mediators including the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia, and an international peace conference to discuss a two-state solution. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed that the Quartet, working closely with both sides and Arab states, “can play a very, very effective role.”

Still, few have hope for a quick resolution as long as the parties refuse to budge from their long-held negotiating positions on borders, a "right to return" for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, Palestinian sovereignty, and Israel's valid security concerns.

The Council on Foreign Relations has a concise history of the conflict here.

#Israel #Palestine #news

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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