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Biden says he remains committed to two-state solution during West Bank visit

‘Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that's independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous’

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 15 July 2022 12:09 BST
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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint statement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Friday, July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint statement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Friday, July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP)
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President Joe Biden has said he remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even if “the ground is not ripe” to restart negotiations between the two parties.

Speaking in Bethlehem alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, Mr Biden said “two states” — one Israeli, one Palestinian — established along Israel’s 1967 borders with “mutually agreed-to [land] swaps” remains the “best way to achieve equal measures of security, prosperity, freedom and democracy for the Palestinians as well as Israelis”.

“Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that's independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous,” Mr Biden said. “Two states for two peoples, both of whom have deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security”.

Mr Biden’s full-throated endorsement of separate Israeli and Palestinian states is technically consistent with long-standing US policy under successive administrations, but it is also a repudiation of how his predecessor, former president Donald Trump, handled the long-running conflict.

Under Mr Trump, the US more or less ignored the Palestinians and gave the Israeli government a free hand to do as it wished in the West Bank and Gaza. The Trump administration also shuttered the Palestinian Authority’s de facto consulate in the US and cut funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which runs schools and other programmes meant to assist Palestinian refugees.

The Biden administration reversed the funding cuts when it came into office in 2021, and Mr Biden said the US would be augmenting the $400m allocated to humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people with an additional $200m for the UN agency so it can “continue this vital work of helping the most vulnerable Palestinians, especially Palestinian children,” as well as $100m for hospitals in East Jerusalem.

The president urged Mr Abbas to “improve governance, transparency and accountability” in the Palestinian Authority, which was formed in 1994 and is recognised by the US as the legitimate government of the Palestinian territories, so it could do “important” work to improve the lives of Palestinians.

“Now's the time to unleash the incredible potential of the Palestinian people through greater engagement with civic society, to combat corruption, to treat and improve community services,” he said. “All this work is critical and it will help build a society that can support a successful democratic future and a future Palestinian state”.

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