‘East Jerusalem’ will forever be capital of Palestine Abbas tells US envoy

In meeting with U.S. official weeks before Biden is expected to visit the region, Abbas says that it is “time for the occupation to leave.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a visiting U.S. diplomat that eastern Jerusalem will “forever” remain the capital of the ‘State of Palestine’ on Sunday afternoon.

Abbas, who battled rumors last week that he had passed away, hosted a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Barbara Leaf at his Ramallah office.

“Our goal is to get rid of the occupation on the basis of the resolutions of international legitimacy,” Abbas told Leaf, according to a summary of the meeting posted by Palestinian state media outlet Wafa.

“East Jerusalem is and will remain forever the capital of the State of Palestine,” he declared.

He said that the PA is taking steps in the international arena to force Israel into stopping “its criminal and occupying practices of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination.”

“The current situation is unsustainable and cannot be tolerated in the absence of a political horizon,” the PA president said, Wafa reported.

Referring to Israel, Abbas said that it is “time for the occupation to leave.”

Abbas then repeated his demands that the U.S. remove the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from its list of international terror groups and that the U.S. Consulate to the Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem be reopened.

President Joe Biden pledged to reopen the consulate as a gesture of goodwill towards the Palestinians after the staunchly pro-Israel Trump years.

However, much to the chagrin of Palestinians, the reopening of the consulate has been repeatedly delayed and appears unlikely to happen. Palestinians are reportedly pressuring Biden for a concrete gesture as a concession for not reopening the consulate.

In late May, the U.S. reportedly promised to take a “series of steps” to strengthen ties with the Palestinian Authority, including appointing Biden administration official Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians and having State Department officials working with the Palestinians report directly to him

Notably, Abbas’ meeting with Leaf comes just weeks before a potential visit from Biden, which has already been delayed once.

Biden was originally supposed to visit Israel and the region in early June, but internal Israeli political upheaval is believed to have caused him to postpone the trip.

American presidents do not visit Israel during election periods, and after a number of coalition crises have rocked the current administration, it seems that Biden is waiting to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials until the political situation is more stable.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that Leaf had met with Abbas “to discuss the U.S.-Palestinian relationship, U.S. assistance to Palestinians, deepening ties, and how Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity.”