National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan declines to answer whether President Biden will make declaration condemning Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria or calling for Israeli building freeze in the area.
By World Israel News Staff
President Joe Biden has no plans of unveiling a new initiative for peace in the Middle East, a top aide said Wednesday, ahead of Biden’s arrival in Israel for his first trip to the Jewish state since taking office last year.
Just prior to Air Force One’s arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport Wednesday afternoon, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters onboard the flight that the president has specific Middle East proposals, saying only that Biden will use his trip to “encourage” Jerusalem and Ramallah to build on the recent contact between high-profile Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders.
“The president will make clear his long-standing commitment and his administration’s commitment to a two-state solution,” Sullivan said, “which he believes is the best path to a democratic viable Jewish state of Israel, and a Palestinian state where Palestinians can live in freedom and dignity.”
Biden, Sullivan continued, “is also mindful of the challenges that have existed for many years in terms of moving that peace process forward. He was heartened by the recent steps, including the phone call between Prime Minister Lapid and President Abbas.”
“There has not been contact between an Israeli prime minister and the president of the Palestinian Authority in several years before that call. That is a positive step.”
“The engagement between Defense Minister Gantz and President Abu Mazen as well,” Sullivan added, referring to Mahmoud Abbas by his alias.
“These are steps that he would like to encourage both sides to build on, but he won’t be making formal proposals for some new peace initiative. What he will do is try to encourage both sides to find a pathway where, step-by-step, they move closer towards a vision that works both for Israelis and Palestinians and for the region as a whole.”
Biden will also discuss the White House’s contentious plans to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem which served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority, prior to its closure during the Trump administration.
“Our position is that we would like a consulate in East Jerusalem. Obviously that requires engagement with the Israeli government. It requires engagement with the Palestinian leadership as well. And we will continue that engagement on this trip,” Sullivan said.
The death of Arab-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a firefight in Jenin between IDF soldiers and Islamic Jihad terrorists will also be a topic of conversation during talks between Biden and Israeli leaders, Sullivan added.
The National Security Advisor refused to say, however, whether President Biden plans on making a statement during his Israel trip regarding Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.
Ahead of Biden’s visit, the Palestinian Authority has pressed the Biden administration to commit to backing a construction freeze in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.