Intel: Biden vows to reopen Palestinian delegation in Washington

al-monitor Democratic US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi, March 8, 2020.  Photo by REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.

May 6, 2020

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Tuesday that he would move to reopen the Palestinian delegation in Washington, which President Donald Trump closed in 2018. The former vice president, who has vowed to keep the US Embassy in Jerusalem, also promised to reopen the US Consulate for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and restore Palestinian aid.

“A priority now for the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace should be resuming our dialogue with the Palestinians and pressing Israel not to take actions that make a two-state solution impossible,” Biden told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I will reopen the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to reopen the [Palestine Liberation Organizations’] diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decadeslong economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump administration stopped.”

Why it matters: The Trump administration shuttered the Palestinians’ Washington office in 2018 after they stopped participating in negotiations that ultimately led to the president’s peace proposal, which greenlights Israel to annex all its West Bank settlements as well as the entire Jordan Valley. Around the same time, the Trump administration eliminated all economic and humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. (The United States went on to shutter its East Jerusalem consulate for the Palestinians last year.)

Notably, Trump’s closure of the Palestinians’ Washington delegation was mandated by US law, presenting a potential obstacle for Biden to fulfill his campaign pledge should he win the election. Under current law, the Palestinians may not maintain an office in Washington because they are pursuing complaints against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The law only allows an exemption if the Palestinians “have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

What’s next: Biden has also warned Israel against moving ahead with West Bank annexation, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hopes to pursue as soon as July.

Know more: Rina Bassist walks through US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s latest remarks on annexation and his warm reception among the Israeli right.

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