Photo Credit: Flash 90
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, May 25, 2021.

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken returned to Washington disappointed from his meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, which was intended to bring about calm in the Palestinian territories and restore security coordination with Israel.

Senior officials in the PA said that the meeting between Blinken and the PA chairman ended without results, but that Mahmoud Abbas agreed that two senior American diplomats, Barbara Leaf, the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, and Hady Amr, the special representative for Palestinian Affairs, would remain in Israel to continue talks with senior PA officials and security figures in Israel on ways to calm the security situation. Israel agreed as well.


According to Palestinian sources, Secretary Blinken did not present any political perspective in his meeting with the PA chairman. Instead, he offered the Palestinians $50 million in financial aid to be transferred to UNRWA and the upgrade of the Palestinian cellular network to 4G.

Blinken completely ignored the issues of opening the American consulate in eastern Jerusalem and opening PLO offices in Washington.

U.S.-Egypt-Jordan Cooperation

American sources said the Biden administration fears the outbreak of a third intifada and is therefore investing political capital to calm the security situation.

Egypt and Jordan joined the American effort and sent to Ramallah the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel, and the head of Jordanian intelligence, Ahmed Housni. The two met with the PA chairman but did not achieve a breakthrough.

Secretary Blinken presented Abbas with a security plan written by U.S. Lt.-Gen. Michael Fenzel, the coordinator between the American administration and the security forces of the PA, to restore control of the PA over the cities of Nablus and Jenin. The plan was acceptable to Israel, and it includes the establishment of a special PA security force that will be trained by the Americans in Jordan and will be deployed in Nablus and Jenin to fight the armed terrorist groups.

Lt. Gen. Michael R. Fenzel
Lt. Gen. Michael R. Fenzel, U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (U.S. Embassy)

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas expressed reservations about the American plan and refused to approve it.

In talks with the American team, senior PLO officials, led by Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee, set a series of conditions for renewing security coordination with Israel.

  1. Cessation of Israel’s unilateral measures.
  2. The cancellation of the sanctions that Israel imposed on the PA.
  3. Stopping the entry of IDF forces into Area A in the West Bank.
  4. Termination of plans to expand settlements.
  5. Stopping the demolition of illegal housing in eastern Jerusalem.
  6. Maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Jenin physician Dr. Abdullah al-Ahmad
The state of Jenin’s chaos: Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades described Jenin physician Dr. Abdullah al-Ahmad as its “commander.” He was killed in fighting with the IDF on October 14, 2022. (Telegram: Jeninqassam)

The visit of the American Secretary of State to Ramallah is like giving a placebo to a terminally ill patient and attempting to inject more oxygen into the respirator which is just barely keeping the PA alive.

It is very doubtful whether the Biden administration will be able to prevent a major outbreak of violence in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria ahead of the month of Ramadan.

The Palestinian demands from Israel are not acceptable to the Netanyahu government, but Israel nevertheless continues the diplomatic game. The PA chairman is not ready to fight against the armed terrorist groups in the territories, which he allowed to grow unimpeded, in clear violation of the Oslo agreements.

Senior PA officials say that the Biden administration wants calm in the West Bank without being willing to pay the political price required by the PA. Biden’s talk of a two-state solution is only lip service to buy time.

The armed terrorist groups in northern Samaria are pleased with the failure of Blinken’s visit to the region and have announced that they will continue their operations against Israel.

Concern over escalation is greater than ever.

{Reposted from JCPA}


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Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.