PA gloats as Biden team returns to old peace formula: The deal of the century is dead

Palestinian minister says that the PA had received assurances that the “Deal of the Century” has been taken off the table.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Palestinian Authority (PA) reacted with relief Tuesday to the Biden administration’s new-old approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict as outlined by the U.S. acting ambassador to the UN earlier in the day.

“For the first time, President Biden’s administration has officially expressed its position toward the peace process and the two-state solution,” said PA Minister of Social Development Ahmed Majdalani.

“We believe that this position constitutes an important positive step on the road to restoring U.S.-Palestinian bilateral relations and opens the door wide to restore the peace process within the framework of multilateral international sponsorship.”

Majdalani also noted that the new American administration had quietly told the PA that it rejected former president Trump’s peace plan, which had been hailed in Israel as a workable basis for negotiations with the Palestinians, but which the PA had vetoed out of hand.

“There are channels of communication between the Palestinian Authority and Biden’s staff, and it’s now possible to get relations with the U.S. back on track after important indications were received regarding the removal of the Deal of the Century off the table,” he said.

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Speaking at the monthly UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Richard Mills had stressed the importance of “renewing U.S. relations with the Palestinian leadership” and reinstating American aid as part of confidence-building measures to encourage negotiations toward a two-state solution.

He had also welcomed the idea of working towards this end with a broad array of actors, including the Quartet, which consists of the U.S., Russia, the UN and the EU.

The Trump administration, seeing the failure of earlier attempts to bring about Mideast peace deals, decided to act alone and enjoyed remarkable success, convincing four Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel. The PA considered these deals as a betrayal of its cause, as for decades the Arab world had said that it would not recognize Israel until negotiations were concluded with a Palestinian state.

Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem, quoted in Saudi Arabia-based Arab News, said President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh “welcomed” Mills’ words.

Miilhem then used the same carrot-and-stick line that the PA has used for decades regarding the peace process.

“We are ready to resume diplomatic negotiations with Israel, with the help of international parties, based on international laws and UN resolutions,” he said. “Any solution, however, that does not take into account Palestinian rights as enshrined by international laws and UN agreements will fail.”

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The Palestinians are also pushing for another international peace conference, which Abbas had called for at the opening of the UN General Assembly last September.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov backed the idea at Tuesday’s UNSC meeting, proposing “an international, ministerial-level meeting in spring-summer 2021.” He said it should include Israel, the PA, the Quartet, Saudi Arabia, and four Arab states that have diplomatic relations with Israel: Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and the UAE.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft had said in reaction to Abbas’ call for a conference that the Trump administration had “no objection to meeting with international partners to discuss the issue. But I have to ask, how is this different than every other meeting convened on this issue over the past 60 years?”