Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas After Their Meeting

PRESIDENT ABBAS:  (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, gentlemen,  we welcome you.  And we affirm that the Israeli Government is responsible for what’s happening these days, because of its practices that undermine the two-state solution and violate the signed agreements, and because of the lack of international efforts to dismantle the occupation and the settlement regimes, and the failure to recognize the Palestinian state and its full membership in the United Nations.

The continued opposition to the efforts of the Palestinian people to defend their existence and their legitimate rights in international forums and courts, and to provide international protection – to provide international protection for our people – is a policy that encourages the Israeli occupier to commit more crimes and violate international law.

This comes at a time when Israel is being overlooked without deterrence or accountability, and it continues its unilateral operations, including settlement, actual annexation of lands, settler (inaudible), storming Palestinian territory, committing crimes, house demolitions, forcible displacement of Palestinians, changing the identity of Jerusalem and violating historical status quo, and the violation of sanctity of Al Aqsa Mosque, and the seizure of funds, and accompanying operations of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

After we exhausted all means with Israel to stop its violations they’ve agreed from the signed agreements and not commit to stopping its unilateral actions, we took a number of decisions which we began to implement in order to protect the interest group of our people.

The complete cessation of unilateral Israeli actions, which violate the signed agreements and international law, is the main entry point for returning the political horizon, ending the occupation in accordance with international preferences and the Arab Peace Initiative in order to make peace, stability, and security for all in our region and the world.

We have always shown commitment to the resolutions of international-led peace, renunciation of violence and terrorism, and respect for signed agreements.  We are now ready to work with the U.S. administration and the international community to restore political dialogue in order to end the Israeli occupation of the land of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with Israel (inaudible) as its capital.

Our people will not accept the continuation of the occupation forever, and the regional security will not be strengthened by violating the sanctity of the holy sites, downplaying on the dignity of the Palestinian people, and ignoring their legitimate rights to freedom, dignity, and independence.

Mr. Blinken, we welcome you and highly appreciate the efforts that you exert to bring peace, and we welcome you again.

(In English) Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, Mr. President, thank you very much, first of all, for hosting us today and for the very productive discussion.

Let me begin by expressing our condolences and sorrow for the innocent Palestinian civilians who’ve lost their lives in escalating violence over the last year.

Palestinians and Israelis alike are experiencing growing insecurity, growing fear in their homes, in their communities, in their places of worship.

So in the first instance, we believe it’s important to take steps to de-escalate, to stop the violence, to reduce tensions, and to try as well to create the foundation for more positive actions going forward.

Those are the necessary first steps, but they’re also not sufficient.  It’s also important to continue to strive not only for reducing violence but ensuring that ultimately Israelis and Palestinians alike enjoy the same rights, the same opportunities.  What we’re seeing now from Palestinians is a shrinking horizon of hope, not an expanding one; and that, too, we believe needs to change.  I also appreciate, Mr. President, your consistent and resolute stance against terrorism.

For our part, we have been working to strengthen our own relationship with the Palestinian people and to help to improve their lives.  We’re doing it in tangible ways, including our support to UNRWA – about $890 million for everything from food to vaccines to support for refugees, education, et cetera.  And today I can announce that we’re going to be providing an additional $50 million to UNRWA.  When President Biden visited in July, he also committed $100 million to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.  We reached an agreement as well to provide 4G communications to Palestinians, and we’re working to implement that.  And the President also named Hady Amr, who is with us today, as our first representative for Palestinian affairs.  And at the same time, we’ll continue to work to reopen our consulate in Jerusalem.

All of these steps are part of the longer term ambition to re-establish, but then not just re-establish, rebuild our relationship, as I said, with the Palestinian people and with the Palestinian Authority.  And this will allow us to more effectively work toward the goal of Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal measures of democracy, of opportunity, of dignity in their lives.  We believe that that can be achieved by a realization of two states.  President Biden remains committed to that goal.

Meanwhile, we oppose any action by either side that makes that goal more difficult to achieve, more distant.  And we’ve been clear that this includes things like settlement expansion, the legalization of outposts, demolitions and evictions, disruptions to the historic status quo of the holy sites, and of course incitement and acquiescence to violence.  We look to both sides to unequivocally condemn any acts of violence regardless of the victim or the perpetrator.

So we discussed all of these vitally important and urgent matters.  In addition, we talked about the importance of the Palestinian Authority itself continuing to improve its governance and accountability, strengthening the institutions of the PA.  That too will improve the lives of the Palestinian people and also lay the groundwork for a democratic Palestinian state.

Finally, I shared with the president that I had an opportunity to meet with Palestinian and Palestinian American civil society leaders.  They share a deep commitment to improving the lives of their fellow Palestinians.  And we discussed ways that the United States can continue to be a strong partner for them, as well as how the Palestinian Authority can support their efforts.

This is a challenging time.  I appreciate the president’s determination to try to work through it in a responsible way that looks out for the lives of everyone, of Palestinians and Israelis alike.  That’s what’s at stake in this moment, and it’s important that we all work together, but particularly Palestinians and Israelis work together, as I said in the first instance, to de-escalate, to reduce the tensions, and then to build from there.  Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS