Report: Biden administration pushed PA to form new peace talks team

Palestinians are hoping that any new peace talks will not be with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, but with Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz.

By World Israel News Staff

The Biden administration pushed the Palestinian Authority to form a new peace talks team before the fall of the Netanyahu government in an apparent move to prepare for a renewal of peace talks, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

Although the news comes just after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been sworn into office, the Americans initiated the appointment of the team in order to strengthen relations with Israel and improve the situation of the PA, the report said.

A senior source with the PA in Ramallah said that in U.S.-sponsored talks with the new Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority is expected to demand a return to the situation prior to 2002, when the second intifada was it its height, along with a halt to the IDF entering Area A in Judea and Samaria under PA control in order to arrest wanted terrorists.

In addition, the Palestinians are expected to demand an expansion of their powers in Areas B and C, including security issues, and are seeking a series of confidence-building measures from Israel in order to preserve the vision of a two-state solution.

As soon as it became clear that there was a new government in Jerusalem, the Biden administration and the Palestinians acted in order to start a dialog quickly, but hoping to deal with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and not necessarily with Bennett – who is on the record as being opposed to the two-state solution.

The Palestinians had to replace former top negotiator Saeb Erekat, who died in an Israeli hospital late November of complications from the coronavirus following a lengthy illness. Although a favorite of western diplomats due to his excellent English perfected while at university in the U.S., Erekat was known for his virulent public attacks on both Israel and the Trump administration.

The Americans are also considering appointing Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel-Palestinian Authority Hady Amr as the consul general in Jerusalem as soon as they reopen the American consulate in the eastern side of Jerusalem that was closed after Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted Monday that Palestinians should look to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as their models for peace with Israel.

“#ANewEra of peace through recognition and engagement rather than boycotts and isolation of Israel,” AIPAC tweeted. “Palestinian leaders should follow this example and return to direct peace talks.”

The last time a Democrat-led administration tried to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was during the Obama administration when then-Secretary of State John Kerry failed in his attempt to achieve peace in a self-imposed, narrow nine-month time slot in 2013-14.