JERUSALEM – After two days of reaffirming America’s firm alliance with Israel, President Joe Biden will turn his attention Friday to the plight of the palestiniansalthough he has already recognized that he cannot give them what they want.
Shortly after arriving in Tel Aviv On Wednesday, Biden said he still supports the creation of an independent Palestinian nation alongside Israel, but knows that won’t happen any time soon.
Instead, Biden will visit a Palestinian hospital in East Jerusalem where he will announce humanitarian assistance and meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
Loop Restoration: Biden has focused throughout his presidency on restoring ties with Palestinians that had been broke during trump management. The creation of an independent Palestinian nation alongside Israel has been the pole star of a negotiated settlement to the decades-long conflict. In recent years, several events have diminished that perspective, including internal political divisions on both sides.
Another setback: Some of the influence the Palestinians had was lost when Israel normalized relations with several Arab nations, a process that began during the Trump administration and which the Biden administration hopes to expand.
Biden’s approach: While the Trump administration viewed the so-called Abraham Accords as a substitute for progress on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, the Biden administration hopes to use normalization as a bridge to progress on the issue.
small steps: As a sign of progress, the Biden administration pointed to the recent phone call between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the first contact at that level in several years.
Saudi proposals: Biden heads to Saudi Arabia after his meetings in Israel on Friday. Before his arrival, the Saudis opened their airspace to “all airlines,” marking the end of their long-standing ban on Israeli flights overflying their territory, a key step toward normalization between the two nations. The White House said the decision paves the way for “a more integrated, stable and secure Middle East region.”
What is going to happen
Biden is expected to announce several initiatives to benefit the Palestinian people, including more than $316 million in aid for various programs.
Nearly $100 million will go to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network to improve Palestinian access to health care services, such as oncology, dialysis, neonatal intensive care, and specialized maternity care.
Another $201 million will go to a United Nations aid program to provide critical services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Additional initiatives include food security assistance, extending 4G digital access to the West Bank and Gaza, and restarting economic discussions between Palestinians and Israelis.
why does it matter
East Jerusalem is predominantly Arab and is claimed by Palestinian leaders as the future capital of their independent state.
Since then-president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel In 2017, Israeli government officials participated in visits to East Jerusalem by US officials. But they will not accompany Biden on Friday.
Biden is not expected to announce any progress toward his commitment to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as a de facto embassy.
what they are saying
“Israel must remain an independent and democratic Jewish state,” Biden said during a press conference on Thursday. “The best way to achieve this remains a two-state solution for two people, who have deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security.”
At that same press conference, Lapid also said that the two-state solution is “a guarantee for a strong democratic state of Israel with a Jewish majority.” But he is serving as caretaker prime minister amid impending elections.
“Biden is not in a position to talk about borders, security arrangements or the administration of Jerusalem, but he can do what is needed for this moment, which is to remind everyone what the conflict is really about and what any decision-maker needs to take into account. solution. account,” wrote Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum on Wednesday in a blog for the Times of Israel.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden to turn the spotlight on Palestinians on the last day of his trip to Israel