Ramallah, Feb 2 (IANS) The Palestinian Authority has resumed contacts with the US government after a three-year hiatus following former American President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel leading to the severing of ties, a top official confirmed here.
In a statement issued here on Monday, Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, said: “Today, I had a telephone conversation with Hadya Amr, a US official, who is in charge of the Palestinian and Israeli affairs in the American State Department.”
He added that the conversation with Amr “was positive, and we discussed the bilateral relationships, the latest developments, and the political situation”.
“At the end of the conversation, we agreed to keep in contact,” al-Sheikh said, adding that it was the first official contact between a Palestinian official and an official from the new US administration since Joe Biden took office on January 20.
On January 26, the Biden administration had announced of restoring relations with Palestine, a move welcomed by the latter.
Richard Mills, the new US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that the administration is intending to abolish all Trump’s policies toward the Palestinians.
Biden’s Middle East policy “will be to support a mutually agreed, two-state solution, in which Israel lives in peace and security, alongside a viable Palestinian state”.
The Ambassador added that the administration intends to restore Palestinian aid and take steps to reopen diplomatic missions closed by Trump administration.
Before Trump’s decision on Jerusalem on December 6, 2017, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbad had visited the White House that same year in May.
The following year, Trump ordered the closure of the Palestinian office in Washington D.C., citing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) lack of progress in the Middle East peace process, leading to further escalation of tensions between the US and Palestine.
In March 2019, the US Consulate-General in Jerusalem ceased operating as an independent mission and had been revamped as the Palestinian Affairs Unit, which would report to the American Embassy in Jerusalem.
In response, PLO Secretary-General Saab Erekat termed the development a “downgrade” and “assault” on the peace process and urged the international community to boycott the Unit.
Later that year, the former President also dismissed a request by Israel to allow the transfer of $12 million to the security forces of Palestine Authority (PA).