Blinken Calls Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas Ahead Of Biden Visit

US Secretary Of State Antony Blinken spoke to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas over the phone days before US president Biden’s visit to West Asia and hours ahead of the beginning of Yair Lapid’s prime ministerial term.

The office of Mahmoud Abbas said Blinken and Abbas discussed bilateral ties between Washington and Ramallah ahead of Biden’s visit next month.

Palestinian officials have however told news agency Haaretz they are not hopeful of any progress on the list of demands the Palestinian Authority presented to the Biden administration.

However, there is hope that Biden’s visit to West Asia could prove to be a starting point to promote long-term diplomatic processes.

Palestinian officials are expecting to secure trust-building measures which won’t require policy change on Israel’s behalf.

Abbas and other top figures raised demands for confidence-building measures and financial aid back during talks with Blinken in May 2021, news agency Haaretz reported.

One of the key demands of the delegation was to reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem which once served the city’s Palestinians residents. The consulate was closed during the Trump presidency.

The Palestinian senior leadership sees the consulate as a sign of the American position on East Jerusalem. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of their state.

The Palestinian leadership also requested the US earlier to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington, also shut down by Donald Trump-administration.
There are other demands the Palestinians have put in front of the US like reinstalling Palestinian border agents to the Allenby Bridge crossing, also known as al-Karameh Bridge. The al-Karameh Bridge connects the West Bank and Jordan.

It also demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prison and demanded an end to military raids in Area A of the West Bank which under the Oslo Accords is meant to be under full Palestinian control.

There are demands including development of tourism and commerce projects.

One official said that there was no or limited progress when it came to confidence-building measures. The only demands that were met were the upgrading of the cellular grid in the West Bank and allowing Palestinians in the West Bank to reunite and meet their immediate family in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian citizens are growing critical of their leader. They feel the leadership is not trying to pressure either Israel or the United States.

Other Palestinian groups, including the Fatah, said the Palestinian National Council authorized Abbas to take steps like revoking recognition of Israel and halt security coordination with it but highlighted Abbas did not of this, despite issuing threats earlier.
(with inputs from Haaretz)

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