Palestinian Prime Minister thrills over Biden’s promises on UNRWA, PLO office, Jerusalem consulate

“In addition, the administration intends to restore aid to UNRWA and aid to the Palestinian people,” Shtayyeh said.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh revealed that he has been in contact with the Biden administration, which has extended several “confidence-building measures,” in an interview with France 24 Arabic TV on Feb. 7. The remarks were translated by MEMRI.

Shtayyeh said that he spoke on the phone with Hady Amr, deputy assistant secretary for Israeli and Palestinian affairs.

“Mr. Amr reaffirmed what this administration declared during the election campaign: It will restore the aid [to Palestinians], it will reopen the PLO office in Washington, and it will open a U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem,” Shtayyeh said.

“This is an important political message. In addition, the administration intends to restore aid to UNRWA and aid to the Palestinian people. These issues, as far as we are concerned, fall under the definition of confidence-building measures between this administration and us.” he said.

The Trump administration announced it was cutting aid to UNRWA on Aug. 31, 2018. A State Department spokeswoman said, “[T]he fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.”

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Shtayyeh says the PA had requested that the new administration revoke all of Trump’s decisions, including the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but it would settle for a U.S. consulate in the heavily Arab eastern part of Jerusalem.

“However, we know that the new administration might not go this way and instead choose an alternative option, which is opening a U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem in order to deal with the Palestinians directly. I believe that it sends a [clear] political message,” he said.

The promises Shtayyeh said Amr made to him are in line with previous statements made by the administration. On Feb. 2, State Department spokesman Ned Price said cutting aid to the Palestinians never worked, echoing earlier remarks made by Acting U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills before the UN Security Council on Jan. 26 that aid would be restored.

Pro-Israel supporters are increasingly worried as they see more of the Biden administration. Hady Amr, with whom Shtayyah spoke, is reportedly an anti-Israel activist who has accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and was director of the Brookings Doha Center, a joint project of Qatar and the Brookings Institute. Qatar has a history of supporting terror groups, including Hamas.