The newly appointed U.S. Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr hailed the Biden administration Wednesday for the creation of his position, which he said “elevates” the Palestinian cause.
The move was “unprecedented,” Amr told reporters, and underlined the Biden administration’s commitment to Palestinian statehood while “bolstering our ability to manage challenges in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.”
It “elevates the Palestinian issue and our engagement on it,” he continued.
“This move is completely consistent with the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthen US engagement with the Palestinian people and leadership that we’ve launched into since day one and even before taking office,” he said.
“The administration supports two states along the ’67 lines where mutually agreed swaps remain the best way to achieve equal measures, security, prosperity, freedom, democracy and justice for Palestinians as well as Israelis,” Amr, who last week visited Israel, said.
The Biden administration must pressure Israel into allowing the U.S. to reopen its consulate in eastern Jerusalem, Amr said. The consulate served as a de facto mission to the Palestinians that the Trump administration shuttered in 2018, along with the PLO offices in Washington.
“We continue to believe that reopening the consulate would put the U.S. in the best position to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people. We will continue to discuss this issue with our Israeli and Palestinian partners,” he said.
President Joe Biden “stated that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that’s independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous, in addition to deserving to live along with Israelis safely and securely while enjoying equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Amr said.
Amr hailed Biden’s decision to restore aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which Trump cut entirely.
“We’ve given about $680 million to UNRWA over the last 18 months and we are going to stay committed to supporting that organization,” Amr said, and added that the U.S. was now the agency’s largest donor.
Currently, U.S. law, under the Taylor Force Act, forbids funding the Palestinian Authority directly as long as it pays stipends to terrorists and their families. The Biden administration has sought to work around that law.
The Biden administration made a decision in April to resume funding for UNRWA despite the fact that it promotes violence against Israelis and that its schools – by the U.N.’s own admission – have been used as weapons caches and as launching pads for Hamas rockets.
Israel has called for permanently shuttering UNRWA, citing its perpetuation of the conflict as well as its terrorist ties. Palestinian so-called refugees are the only “refugees” in the world that pass that status on to their descendants in perpetuity. One of the core issues in the conflict is the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” that would see those refugees and their descendants — who now number around 5 million — return to Israel in any final status agreement. Israel has categorically rejected this demand, deeming it a bid to destroy the Jewish state by demographics.
On Wednesday, UNRWA announced the discovery of another terror tunnel under one of its schools in Gaza.
Amr is known for anti-Israel views, and once vowed in a hateful diatribe that Arab children around the world would “never, never forget what the Israeli people, the Israeli military and Israeli democracy have done to Palestinian children.”