Palestinian Authority now ready to deal, urges Israel to return to talks

Al-Maliki said that the Palestinian Authority is ready to cooperate with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

By Associated Press

The Palestinian foreign minister on Saturday urged Israel to return to talks based on a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ahead of the transition to a new U.S. administration.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s comments came in a joint statement with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

In a news conference after their meeting, al-Maliki said that the Palestinian Authority is ready to cooperate with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, on the basis of achieving a Palestinian state with eastern parts of Jerusalem as its capital.

“We are ready for cooperation and dealing with the new U.S. administration, and we are expecting that it would re-draw its ties with the state of Palestine,” he said.

The Palestinian diplomat said coordination with Cairo and Amman is a “center point” that would establish a “starting point” in dealing with the incoming Biden administration. Egypt and Jordan are close U.S. allies.

In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international conference early next year to launch a “genuine peace process,” based on the U.N. resolutions and past agreements with Israel. The Palestinians urged that the conference be multilateral, since they contend the United States is no longer an honest broker.

Palestinian negotiators have suffered numerous setbacks under the Trump administration, and complained about what they say are biased pro-Israel steps from Washington.

Trump has sidelined the Palestinian Authority, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, slashed financial assistance for the Palestinians, and reversed course on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians.

Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Much of the international community considers the areas ‘occupied territory,’ a position rejected by the Trump administration and numerous observers of international law.

Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem and considers it part of its capital — a fact recognized by the U.S. when it announced its embassy move in 2017.

In May, the Palestinian president announced that the PA would cut ties with Israel, including security coordination, following Israel’s pledge to annex large parts of Judea and Samaria.

In a statement following their meeting, the three ministers said they would work to rally international support against Israel’s “illegitimate measures” that include settlements’ expansion, demolishing dozens of Palestinian homes and seizing their land.

“These are illegitimate Israeli actions on the ground that affect all chances to reach a comprehensive peace process that can only happen by the two-state solution,” said Safadi, Jordan’s top diplomat, at the news conference.

The ministers said in their statement that Jerusalem’s status should be resolved in the negotiations, calling for Israel “as the occupying power, to stop all violations that target the Arab, Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem and its sanctuaries.”

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also met with the Jordanian and Palestinian ministers, according to the Egyptian leader’s office.

He said in a statement that Egypt has been working toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “taking into account the regional and international changes.”

He was apparently referring to the election of Biden as the U.S. president, and the normalization deals between Israel and four Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

That deals, crafted by the Trump administration, dealt another heavy setback for the Palestinians.