PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, welcomed the official visit of the President of the United States of America, President Joseph Biden, to Bethlehem, regarded by Palestinians as the cradle of Jesus Christ, the city of peace and hope, rich in the civilisational and cultural heritage of the Palestinian people.
President Abbas considered that this visit and meeting with President Biden will contribute to strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries and the Palestinian and American peoples, hoping that it will also contribute to creating the atmosphere to relaunch a political horizon based on international legitimacy resolutions.
In this regard, we thank President Biden for his reconfirmation of the US administration’s commitment to the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and that the establishment of an independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living side by side with the State of Israel is the best solution for the two peoples to live in security and peace.
President Abbas also welcomed the US vision that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy, calling on President Biden to take concrete political measures to ensure that this vision is implemented on the ground.
President Abbas stressed the need to end unilateral steps that violate international law and undermine the two-state solution, including stopping the forced displacement of Palestinians, stopping house demolitions and daily killings, holding the killers of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh accountable, and stopping colonial settlement activities, because all Israeli colonial settlements are illegal, and that halting these unilateral measures and steps is required to create conditions for a return to the political track, and to resolve all permanent status issues, including the Palestinian refugee issue, in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and signed agreements.
President Abbas said that East Jerusalem, occupied since 1967, is the capital of the State of Palestine, stressing the need to stop the extremist groups’ incursions into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to preserve the historical status in the Christian and Islamic holy sites in East Jerusalem under the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s custodianship.
‘We have agreed with President Biden to work with his administration on many critical issues to advance peace, security, stability, and advance the Palestinian economy,’ the statement read.
President Abbas stressed his full readiness to cooperate with the US administration of President Biden to remove all obstacles to strong bilateral relations between the Palestinian and US sides, including removing the name of the PLO from the American lists of terrorism, reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem, and reopening the PLO office in Washington.
In conclusion, President Abbas valued President Biden’s decision to resume US aid to the Palestinian people, including providing support to UNRWA and East Jerusalem hospitals.
- Biden announced a commitment of $100 million to Palestinian hospitals in the occupied city of East Jerusalem.
Speaking during a visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital, on the Mount of Olives in occupied East Jerusalem, US President Biden announced the provision of a $100 million aid package to fund the Jerusalem Hospital Network as part of the US commitment to support the health and dignity of the Palestinian people.
In his speech, he commended the outstanding work done by the hospital, especially with regards to cancer treatment and praised nurses and other healthcare workers for providing care and hope to the sick.
He announced that the USAID has committed $85 million to the Jerusalem Hospital Network since 2014 and welcomed the $25 million contribution from UAE.
He stressed that the US will continue to work with the Palestinian leadership and other stakeholders to ‘ensure that East Jerusalem’s hospital network remains sustainable and available, and is able to provide high-quality care the Palestinian people deserve.’
During his speech, the hospital CEO, Fadi Atrash thanked President Biden for his ‘gesture’ and for ‘bringing hope to the East part of the city, a key component of long and just peace’.
He added that Biden’s visit to Augusta Victoria, which he described as historical, is ‘a courageous statement of support for the Palestinian people’.
President Biden then travelled to Bethlehem to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas stressed that the recognition of the Palestinian state holds the key to regional peace and security.
Speaking during a joint press conference with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, at the presidential headquarters in Bethlehem, President Abbas stated: ‘After 74 years of the Nakba, displacement and occupation, is it not time for this occupation to end, for our steadfast people to gain their freedom and independence, and for the hopes of our young men and women, whom we cherish and trust and their creativity, to achieve in a promising future without occupation.
‘In this regard, we say the key to peace and security in our region begins with recognising the State of Palestine, enabling the Palestinian people to obtain their legitimate rights in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions, and ending all permanent status issues, including the Palestinian refugee issue, and the way to that begins with ending the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders,’ he added.
He highlighted to President Biden the importance of restoring the foundations of the peace process based on the United Nations resolutions and the two-state solution on the 1967 borders.
Abbas renewed the call for President Biden to fulfil his promises with regards to reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem, remove the PLO from the US terrorist list, and reopening the PLO office in Washington.
‘We, for our part, are ready to work within the framework of partnership and cooperation in order to remove any obstacles to achieving that,’ he added.
He urged the US to help ‘turn the page on the Israeli occupation of our land, end the acts of racial discrimination (Apartheid) against our people, and stop unilateral actions that undermine the two-state solution’.
He made reference to the killing of iconic Palestinian-American Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
Only if Israel ends its occupation of the territories of the State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, it ‘will be accepted to live in peace, security and good neighbourhood with countries and peoples of the region.’
‘The opportunity for a two-state solution on the 1967 borders may be available today, and it may not remain for a long time,’ Abbas said while pointing out that he extends his hand for peace based on the UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
During his speech, President Biden reiterated that his commitment to the goal of the two-state solution has not changed.
‘Two states along the 1967 lines with mutually-agreed land swaps, remain the best way to achieve equal measure of security, prosperity, freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as Israelis,’ he said.
He said that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that is independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous. ‘Two states for two people living side by side in peace and security. Both states respecting the equal rights of their citizens.’
He admitted that the goal of the two-state seems so far away and said that he felt the grief and frustration of the Palestinian people.
‘There must be a political horizon that the Palestinian people can actually see or at least feel,’ he added.
He expressed his country’s as well as his administration’s commitment to resuming that long-stalled ‘negotiations’.
While calling for an end to ‘violence’, he referred to the killing of Abu Akleh, which he described as an ‘enormous loss to sharing with the world the story of the Palestinian people’, and reaffirmed his country’s insistence on a full and transparent inquiry into her death.
He called for preserving the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem under Jordan’s custodianship as well as for freedom of worship in the occupied city.
Commenting on what he described as his country’s efforts to improving the daily life of the Palestinian people, he said that he resumed more $500 million in aid to Palestinians in 2021 and announced that the U.S. will provide additional $200 million to UNRWA
Commenting on talks with Israel on spurring Palestinian economic growth, he unveiled a plan to roll out infrastructure for 4G Internet across the Gaza Strip and West Bank by the end of next year, increase the supply of renewable energy, and improve freedom of movement of people and goods.
He expressed his hope that the visit will serve as the start of a new reinvigorated dialogue between the PA and the US and between the Palestinians and countries throughout the region.