AMMAN: Palestinian leaders watching the results of the US elections say they are hoping for a re-engagement with Washington after years of squandered efforts by the Trump administration in the quest for peace.
Senior Palestinian officials were asked during the crucial days after the poll to stay quiet in order to avoid provoking the US president, who will stay in power until Jan. 20.
Vera Baboun, former Bethlehem mayor and a member of the Palestinian National Council, told Arab News that Palestinians are looking forward to the US government acknowledging their cause.
“We hope that President-elect Joe Biden will respond positively to the call by President (Mahmoud) Abbas for an international conference for peace early in 2021.”
Baboun said that diplomatic contacts must be renewed at a high level quickly so the upcoming conference can have substantive discussions.
Kamala Harris, Biden’s deputy and running mate, has said that a Biden administration is committed to a two-state solution and will renew contacts with the Palestinian leadership, including reopening the Palestinian mission in Washington and the US mission in East Jerusalem.
She also said that the US will restore financial support to the United Nations Refugee Agency and other humanitarian programs supporting the Palestinian people.
Wadie Abunassar, director of the Haifa-based International Center for Consultations, told Arab News that Biden will certainly help restart Israeli-Palestinian talks, but won’t necessarily bring Palestinians an independent state.
“It is difficult seeing Biden granting high priority to the Israeli-Palestinian track, especially with current Israeli and Palestinian leaders (Netanyahu and Abbas) around.”
But Abunassar believes that Biden will make serious efforts “to maintain good ties with Israel and will avoid pressing it too much, especially in the absence of any serious Muslim or Arab pressure on him to grant Palestinians the right to self-determination.”
However, former Palestinian government spokesman Jamal Dajani warned that Biden is unlikely to be the savior of Palestinians.
“I am not sure if Biden as president will be able to undo the damage done by Trump,” Dajani said before calling on the Palestinian leadership to “stop banking on the US.”
While Palestinian leaders refuse to link the renewal of contacts with Washington to the resumption of security ties with Israel, a number of Palestinians contacted by Arab News said that they are hoping that the departure of Trump and the election of a friendlier Biden administration might help resolve the current impasse with Israel.
Of extreme interest to many Palestinians is the resolution of the tax revenue conflict that has resulted in the deprivation of money earmarked for Palestinians that has been held by Israel.