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In the West Bank, Biden says Palestinians need to see a “political horizon.”

#West #Bank #Biden #Palestinians #political #horizon

US President Joe Biden said on Friday during a trip to the occupied West Bank that although hopes for a peace process with Israel remain bleak, Palestinians must see a path toward statehood.

Biden’s visit to Bethlehem came ahead of a flight to Saudi Arabia, whose leaders on Friday changed flight rules in an apparent gesture of openness to Israel.

Riyadh paved the way for Israeli planes to use its airspace by announcing it would lift restrictions on “all airlines,” a move Biden hailed as “historic.”

The president’s visit to the Saudi city of Jeddah follows talks with Abbas, the latest high-level diplomatic meeting after those with Israeli leaders on Thursday.

Biden reiterated his administration’s commitment to a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying there must be “a political horizon that the Palestinian people can actually see.”

“I know that the goal of the two states seems so far away,” he said in Bethlehem alongside Abbas.

The Palestinian president said he was taking “steps” to improve bilateral ties and is seeking to reopen the US consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem, which was shut down by Trump.

“The key to peace begins with the recognition of the State of Palestine,” Abbas said.

With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled since 2014, the US delegation has focused on economic measures.

Biden announced an additional $200 million for the UN agency that serves Palestinian refugees whose funding has been cut by former US President Donald Trump.

During a visit earlier Friday to a hospital in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem, Biden pledged a $100 million aid package for medical facilities in the region.

But he made it clear Thursday that he has no plans to reverse Trump’s controversial move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Palestinians who see its eastern sector as the seat of their future state.

The US delegation was also due to announce plans to roll out infrastructure for 4G internet throughout Gaza and the West Bank by the end of next year, fulfilling a longstanding Palestinian wish.

– Murdered Palestinian-American Reporter –

After Israel banned Palestinians from engaging in political activities in Jerusalem, the US President traveled to Bethlehem to meet Abbas.

He was greeted by a billboard reading “Justice for Shireen,” a nod to the veteran Palestinian-American journalist who was shot dead in May while covering an Israeli army raid in the West Bank.

Shireen Abu Akleh’s family requested to meet with Biden during his visit, but a senior administration official told reporters the president was “unable,” noting that the family had been invited to Washington.

“I think if President Biden finds an hour and a half to participate in a sporting activity, he should have respected the family and given them 10 minutes to listen,” said Samer Siniylawi, chairman of a Palestinian nonprofit. of the Jerusalem Development Fund after Biden attended a ceremony for Jewish athletes on Thursday.

Dozens of protesters gathered in Bethlehem with pictures of Abu Akleh and signs against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Speaking alongside Abbas, Biden said the US “will continue to insist on a full and transparent account of her death.”

Washington earlier this month concluded that she was likely shot from an Israeli military position, but that there was no evidence of intent to kill.

– Next stop, Jeddah –

At the heart of the Jerusalem talks between Biden and Lapid was Iran’s nuclear program and its support for Islamist groups such as Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Biden and Lapid signed a new security pact in which Washington pledged to use all of its “national power” to ensure Tehran would not acquire nuclear weapons.

Washington is currently trying to get the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers back on track after Trump’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018 derailed it.

In a tweet on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Biden’s trip to Israel was a “puppet show” that would make his country “more determined” to protect its nuclear interests.

After the West Bank visit, Biden will fly from Israel to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh’s decision to lift airspace restrictions was hailed as “good news” by Lapid, who called it “just the first step”.

while Israel pushes for closer regional ties.

Saudi Arabia has long stressed its commitment to the Arab League’s decades-old position of not establishing official ties with Israel until the conflict with the Palestinians is resolved.

The US president is expected to meet with Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council who are meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah to discuss volatile oil prices.

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#West #Bank #Biden #Palestinians #political #horizon

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