Abbas Seeks United Stance With Amman, Cairo Ahead of Talking to Biden

Palestinian leadership already has reached understandings with president-elect’s team, PA foreign minister says
November 30, 2020
Jordan’s King Abdullah II welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas before a meeting at the Royal Palace in Amman in this photo from March 2013. (Khalil Mazraawi/Wikimedia Commons)

The Media Line — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas conducted his first diplomatic tour of the year, meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Aqaba on Sunday before immediately leaving for Cairo for talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, on Monday.

The meetings are aimed at discussing political arrangements with the incoming American administration as well as the regional and international situation.

During the meeting in Aqaba, which also was attended by the 26-year-old Crown Prince Hussein, the king stressed that Amman stands alongside the Palestinians in “obtaining their just and legitimate rights” and establishing their independent state on the June 4, 1967 internationally recognized border with Israel, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The monarch reaffirmed that his country would continue to play its historical and religious role in protecting the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, in light of the Hashemite guardianship of the sacred sites.

“President Abbas is trying to establish an Arab political position for talking with Biden once he’s in office that includes an understanding with Amman.”

Moeen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst and writer for the Institute for Palestine Studies in Amman, told The Media Line the aim of the visit was to organize a united Arab stance for dealing with the new American administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“President Abbas is trying to establish an Arab political position for talking with Biden once he’s in office that includes an understanding with Amman, which has tried during the recent period to reach a middle ground between what Trump offered and Amman’s expectation of the incoming American president,” Taher said.

“I believe Abbas will turn the page on the Arab normalization deals between Bahrain and the UAE with Israel, as he ordered the return of the Palestinian ambassadors to both countries,” he added.

The Palestinian president had recalled both envoys to Ramallah after the Gulf countries signed peace agreements with Israel.

“He [Abbas] is trying to anticipate events in this move toward forming a united Arab position. He and Jordan are committed to this,” Taher said.

The PA seeks to launch a new diplomatic process in the region after the departure of the Trump Administration that it considers biased against the Palestinian cause. It has intensified its international communication and has contacted the Biden transition team.

Foreign Minister Riad Malki recently said that the Palestinian leadership had reached understandings with Biden’s team, as the latter was informed of the PA’s readiness to return to negotiations with Israel on the basis of the decisions of international law.

Abbas has boycotted the administration of President Donald Trump ever since it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.

Dr. Abdel Nasser al-Najjar, a Palestinian political analyst and a media professor at Al-Quds University, told The Media Line the visits came about because Jordan and Egypt have a very important and historical role in any Palestinian diplomatic move, past or future.

“This visit comes after diplomatic stagnation, as President Abbas had not initiated any such moves this year because of the coronavirus pandemic; regional developments; and the complete cut of relations with the American administration at all levels,” Najjar said.

Biden’s electoral win brought the Palestinians renewed hope for change, and therefore it is important to reunite the Arab position, he explained. “Palestinians need support after a period of being mired in issues created by the [two] Gulf states’ normalization with Israel.”

The visits are aimed at sending a signal to the Americans, more than the Arabs, that the Palestinian leadership is ready to resume negotiations, but not based on the previous approach, Najjar said. “Not with the Trump approach, which has complicated issues in the region and supported more Israeli settlements,” he said.

He warned that the region is about to explode unless some parties alter their positions, especially the United States.

Najjar acknowledges that the Palestinian issue is not currently Biden and his team’s top priority, but said the fact that communications already have been established provides hope, as the president-elect’s team would never conduct talks with the Palestinians without Biden’s approval.

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