Abbas Finally Congratulates Biden, Said to Demand Reversal of Embassy Move

In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris. The Hamas militant group on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2017, said it has accepted key conditions demanded by its rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, including nationwide elections …
AP/Michel Euler

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called on self-proclaimed president-elect Joe Biden to “strengthen the Palestinian-American relationship,” and was cited by a senior source as seeking the reversal of the U.S. embassy move by the incoming administration.

“I look forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden and his administration to strengthen the Palestinian-American relationship and achieve freedom and independence, justice and dignity for our people, as well as work for peace, stability and security for all in our region and the world,” Abbas said in a statement.

Palestinian ambassador to the UK Hussam Zomlot, who previously served as the envoy to Washington until the Trump administration expelled him and shuttered the diplomatic mission in Washington, hailed the “historic & inspiring elections.”

“I sense the excitement of those who aspire to a just and lasting peace in Palestine. Engagement based on mutual respect, freedom, justice and equality must be the way forward,” Zomlot wrote on Twitter.

Biden, whom the Associated Press declared president-elect on Saturday, has already tasked his transition team with focusing on how to leverage the “executive power” of the Oval Office, according to the Washington Post.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Abbas is ready for “immediate engagement” with the U.S. if their terms are met. He later added he hoped the Biden transition team will place the Palestinian cause on “their list of priorities.”

“We look forward to constructive bilateral U.S.-Palestinian relations towards achieving a just and lasting peace within the frame of two states and ending the Israeli occupation,” Shtayyeh said.

“President Mahmoud Abbas is ready for immediate engagement when there is a partner and a serious process with clear terms of reference,” Shtayyeh said.

The Israel Hayom daily quoted an unnamed senior official in Abbas’s office as raising concerns that Biden would be too pro-Israel.

“He is a veteran politician of the Democratic Party and belongs to a wing of the Democratic Party that sees Israel as an asset and not a burden,” the source told the newspaper.

According to the official, Abbas may be one of the first Arab leaders to meet with Biden and will demand that the president-elect immediately revert Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the subsequent embassy move there.

Close Abbas aide Nabil Shaath said the PA will also demand that the U.S. reopen the diplomatic mission in Washington, as well renew American aid to the Palestinians and to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants UNRWA, both of which Trump stopped over the Palestinians so-called pay-for-slay scheme paying terrorists and their families.

“There has never been anything worse than the Trump era. Salvation from it is an achievement,” Shaath said.

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi celebrated what she called a “detrumped” United States.

“Trumpism must be carefully scrutinized & remedied to restore the human, moral & legal equilibrium within and beyond the U.S.. Such phenomena do not emerge from a vacuum,” she said.

“Now is the time for holistic & bold therapeutics,” Ashrawi said in a statement.

“We don’t expect miraculous transformation, but at least we expect the dangerous destructive policies of Trump to totally stop,” Ashrawi, who is a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee, went on.

“They should change course and deal with the Palestinian question on the bases of legality, equality and justice and not on the basis of responding to special interests of pro-Israeli lobbies or whatever,” she added.

Last week, apparent vice president-elect Kamala Harris told The Arab American News that under a Joe Biden administration, the U.S. will work to restore ties with the Palestinians which the latter severed under the Trump administration.

Harris said Biden will reopen the Palestinians diplomatic mission in Washington and renew humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.

She added that Biden was committed to the two-state solution. Biden is also likely to oppose Israeli government steps to apply sovereignty over the West Bank.

 

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