The US will resume diplomatic ties with Palestinians that were cut under the Trump administration, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council Thursday.
“Since January, our diplomatic engagement has been guided by the premise that sustainable progress toward peace must be based on active consultations with both sides,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “To that end, our administration will take steps to re-open diplomatic channels of communication that were halted during the last administration.”
Thomas-Greenfield also said that under President Joe Biden, the US has “recommitted to the vision of a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” and announced $15 million in humanitarian aid for the West Bank and Gaza.
The announcements amount to a reversal of Trump administration policies. President Donald Trump cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians and during his administration, diplomatic contacts with Palestinians came to a virtual halt. After Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in December 2017, the Palestinian Authority broke off all official relations with the White House and the State Department, though security cooperation continued.
In 2018, the Trump administration ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative office in Washington close and in 2019, shuttered the US consulate general in Jerusalem that served Palestinians in the city, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza, folding it into the US embassy. The Biden administration signaled soon after taking office that they would resume diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority.
Thomas-Greenfield also said that the US will work to find immediate, tangible ways to “ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state, while upholding the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.”
Efforts to find a negotiated two-state solution will be “consistent with international law and in line with relevant UN resolutions,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that “it is essential that both sides take concrete steps to advance the two-state solution.”
The US ambassador to the UN called on both sides to refrain “from all unilateral actions that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” and urged Israelis and Palestinians to continue cooperation on Covid vaccinations.
Thomas-Greenfield said the humanitarian aid would support Catholic Relief Services’ Covid-19 response efforts and provide emergency food assistance to communities facing food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic.
In a statement Thursday, the State Department said the aid is “small step in advancing the well-being of the Palestinian people is fully in keeping with American values.”