Biden says he told Saudi prince he blames him for Khashoggi’s murder

Biden says he told Saudi prince he blames him for Khashoggi's murder
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Recognition…Doug Mills/The New York Times

JERUSALEM — President Biden on Friday said now is not the time to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but insisted he remained committed to a two-state solution to their conflict and expressed hope that the diplomatic agreements between Israel will be sealed in 2020 and four Arab states could give new impetus to the peace process.

“Even if the ground is not ripe at this point to resume negotiations, the United States and my administration will not give up on bringing the Palestinians and Israelis and both sides closer together,” he said. said Biden.

“At this moment, as Israel improves relations with its neighbors across the region, we can use the same momentum to revitalize the peace process between the Palestinian people and Israelis,” he said. Biden added, referring to a series of agreements known as the Abraham Accords that were negotiated under the Trump administration.

Mister. Biden made the comments at a press conference after meeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a bleak time for Palestinians. The meeting took place in Bethlehem in Ramallah, the agency’s administrative center, to allow Mr. Biden to briefly visit the Church of the Nativity, the fourth-century basilica that stands on a site where tradition says Jesus was born.

His comments followed a call from Mr. Abbas for Mr. Biden to help “prepare the atmosphere for a political horizon for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.”

“Isn’t it time to end this occupation?” Mister. Abbas said at the press conference. “The key to peace and security in our region begins with recognition of the State of Palestine,” he added, although Saudi Arabia — the most powerful Arab country — took gradual steps on Friday to normalize ties with Israel for the first time .

“The opportunity for the two-state solution along the 1967 borders may not present itself until today,” the Palestinian leader said. “But we don’t know what will happen later.”

After a lavish reception in Israel, it was a tense morning for Mr. Biden, who was met with protests from Palestinians in Jerusalem and Bethlehem hours before a scheduled flight to potentially even more tense meetings in Saudi Arabia.

In Bethlehem, Mr. Biden said his commitment to the goal of a two-state solution has not changed, saying, “Two states modeled on 1967 with mutually agreed land swaps remain the best way to achieve equal levels of security, prosperity, liberty and democracy for… to reach the Palestinians…as well as Israelis.”

Mister. Abbas also urged Mr. Biden to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from the US terror list and to reopen the US consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the PLO mission in Washington, both of which were closed under President Donald J. Trump.

The Palestinian leadership is split between the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Most Palestinians see little hope for reconciliation. current survey results.

In Gaza, a blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt is entering its 15th year. One in four Palestinians was unemployed in 2021. Seven in 10 believe a Palestinian state is no longer viable because of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, according to a June report opinion poll. Almost 80 percent want the resignation of Mr. Abbas, the agency’s president, who last faced an election in 2005, and the vast majority view both the agency and Hamas as corrupt.

Against this backdrop, many Palestinians are frustrated with the Biden government, with 65 percent opposed to dialogue between their leadership and the United States. While the Biden administration has often called for a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict — and Mr. Biden reiterated that call Thursday — the perception among analysts is that he has not backed his words with action.

On the eve of Mr. Biden’s visit, the White House announced several financial measures intended to improve Palestinian life, but stalled short of a political process to create a Palestinian state, leaving several Trump-era policies in place.

In his speech on Friday, Mr. Biden also called on the Palestinian Authority to do more to clean its own home.

“The Palestinian Authority also has important work to do, if you will allow me to say so,” Mr. Biden said. “Now is the time to strengthen Palestinian institutions to improve governance, transparency and accountability. Now is the time to unlock the incredible potential of the Palestinian people through greater engagement and a stronger civil society to fight corruption, advance rights and freedoms, and improve community services.”

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