Biden pushes the Palestinians to work together at the Abraham Agreement, but Abbas is undecided

Biden pushes the Palestinians to work together at the Abraham Agreement, but Abbas is undecided
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US President Joe Biden has asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his cooperation as he seeks to use the normalization arrangements between Israel and several Arab states in the Abraham Accords to advance measures that benefit the Palestinians, Ein said senior government official told The Times of Israel.

The PA has so far resisted requests to join multilateral initiatives bringing Israel together with its new Arab allies, arguing that the Abraham Accords are an attempt to sidestep the Palestinian issue.

Abbas did not commit to changing his stance during his meeting with Biden in Bethlehem earlier this month, where the request was made, and his office has yet to contact the White House on whether it is willing to step on board. the senior US official said on Thursday.

“We have made it very clear that normalization and implementation of the Abraham Agreement takes place. This is a trend, and that the Palestinians are trying to defend themselves against it is not interested, ”said a second high-ranking US official. “We have found that the Arab capitals support the inclusion of the Palestinians in the efforts of the Abraham Agreement, and we have increasingly noticed that the Israelis do this too.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid agreed with the Arab nations at the Negev summit in March that each of the six working groups set up by the Member States-on national security, education, health, energy, nutritional security and tourism-also work on measures for Promotion of the Palestinians to promote their respective priorities.

However, the idea was proposed after Lapid had rejected an application from US Foreign Minister Antony Flashing to set up an additional working group to advance the Palestinian question, two Middle East diplomats said back then.

Passengers sit in a waiting room on the Jordanian side of the Allenby Bridge, which connects the West Bank with Jordan, on July 19, 2022. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

Still, one of the first fruits of the US effort was announced during Biden’s trip. Among the package of steps the US said Israel would advance for the Palestinians was a plan to keep the Allenby Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan open 24 hours a day until September 30.

The Israeli Ministry of Transport later issued a statement acknowledging that the initiative was the result of cooperation with Morocco. Morocco’s Transport Minister Mohammed Abdeljalil brought up the idea when he met his Israeli counterpart, Merav Michaeli, on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum in Germany in May.

Michaeli agreed to take the matter forward, and a telephone conversation later took place between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs Barbara Leaf and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita to take the matter forward.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, however, Israel Defense Ministry officials began to express reservations, the second senior administration official said, adding that US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides was instrumental in getting the announcement across the finish line. Jordan also played a role in the negotiations, the official said.

Transport Minister Meirav Michaeli meets with her Moroccan counterpart Mohammed Abdeljalil on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig, Germany, in May 2022. (With kind approval)

However, contrary to the White House announcement, Michaeli’s statement on Allenby did not include a deadline by which the crossing would be in 24-hour operation. A spokesman for the minister said the timing will depend on when the office is able to find enough staff to keep the bridge open 24 hours a day.

A Palestinian official familiar with the matter said Ramallah felt the September 30 deadline was unrealistic and that, given several gestures, there was widespread skepticism about whether this or any of the other measures announced by the US would be implemented previously announced to Israel.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday expressed his support for the efforts of the bidet government to use the Abraham Agreement to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

“I believe we can use the Abraham Accords and relationships with regional partners to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and promote confidence-building measures,” he said during a live interview at the Aspen Security Forum.

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