Biden asks UN Security Council for a viable state for Palestine 

New U.S. Administration advocates new consensus on the Middle East at the UN  
La nueva Administración estadounidense aboga por un nuevo consenso sobre Oriente Medio ante la ONU  


During the four years of the Republican administration, Donald Trump promoted a new paradigm in international relations with the countries of the Middle East: maintaining sanctions against Iran, total support for the State of Israel, supporting the normalization of Arab countries with the Hebrew country, or friendships with authoritarian regimes while disregarding human rights.  

In his debut at the White House in Washington, the new top U.S. leader, Joe Biden, approved a set of measures, many of which invalidate several taken by former President Donald Trump. 

Joe Biden's arrival at the White House invites hope on the Palestinian side. Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian Foreign Minister, has indicated that the Palestinian Authority is ready to return to negotiations also with the new US administration without any conditions other than respecting UN resolutions. 

The United States assured the UN on Tuesday that the new Administration of Joe Biden will support a negotiated two-state solution in the Middle East, outlining a return to international consensus after Donald Trump's break. 

Joe Biden believes the two-state solution "is the only way" to achieve a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The "two-state solution remains the only way forward," the new U.S. president was quoted as saying by AFP. 

In a clear change of position with respect to the previous administration, the US representative urged the Israeli government and the Palestinians to avoid "unilateral steps that make the two-state solution more difficult", among which he pointed to "annexations of territory" and "settlement activities". 

Although a radical change in policies towards the Palestinians is not expected, given the long-standing alliance between Washington and Tel Aviv, Biden is expected to move away from the more ultra-Orthodox and conservative positions of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Richard Mills, U.S. representative to the United Nations, also announced before the Security Council that several decisions of the previous administration regarding the Middle East would be annulled. 

According to the diplomat, Washington will now urge the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to "avoid unilateral measures that hinder a two-state solution, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolition, incitement to violence and compensation for those imprisoned for acts of terrorism." 

AFP/ALAA BADARMEH - El presidente palestino Mahmoud Abbas habla en Ramala, Cisjordania, el 3 de septiembre de 2020 
AFP/ALAA BADARMEH - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks in Ramallah, West Bank, Sept. 3, 2020.

"We hope that it will be possible (...) to gradually build the expertise of both sides to create an environment in which we can again be in a position to help move forward on a solution," he continued. 

The U.S. contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was reduced by $360 million under Trump, will be restored, he said. 

This approach contrasts with that of Trump, who focused his Middle East strategy on measures and proposals rejected head-on by the Palestinian authorities and included historic agreements between Arab countries and Israel, which have changed the regional paradigm of the conflict. 

On the other hand, the Palestinian and Israeli representatives - as usual - crossed accusations on different issues, including the pandemic, with the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Al Malki, accusing Israel of not providing the Palestinians with vaccines for the coronavirus, in breach of its responsibilities as an "occupying power". 

Hamas Movement Political Bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said that newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden should change the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and abandon Donald Trump's policies: "Unjust policies against our people have made the United States a partner in injustice and aggression, and have damaged the state of stability in the region and the world, and impeded the American ability to be a party to conflict resolution". 

Days earlier, in a symbolic and controversial act in the city of Nazareth, also of Arab majority, in the middle of Benjamin Netanyahu's electoral campaign, he mixed countless electoral promises with messages such as "the Arabs must be an integral part of Israeli society" or "this is an opportunity for the beginning of a new era". 

AFP/ALAA BADARMEH - El presidente palestino Mahmoud Abbas habla en Ramala, Cisjordania, el 3 de septiembre de 2020 

This move by the president, however, is not in response to a rapprochement between his party and this sector of society, composed of people originating from the region and descendants of the indigenous populations who remained inside Israel after its creation in 1948 and many of whom claim their Palestinian identity. 

The Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Abulgueit, also participated in the Security Council meeting and hoped that the Biden Administration would take steps to "correct" Trump's "unhelpful" policies. 

In this regard, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again expressed Moscow's support for the organization of an international peace conference that the Palestinians have been demanding and proposed to hold this spring or summer at the ministerial level. 

The announcement under the Trump Administration to support the Israeli annexation of the West Bank led the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas to break off talks. The Palestinian president urged UN Secretary-General António Guterres to convene a new international peace conference next year to relaunch the talks with Joe Biden at the helm of the White House.  

During the Trump Administration, the relationship with the Palestinians deteriorated to the point that the US closed the Palestinian representative office in Washington and the Palestinians assured that they no longer recognized the White House as the main mediator in the conflict, as it had been historically.