Photo Credit: Brookings Institution
Hady Amr, the State Dept. point man on Palestinian Authority relations.

Newly appointed US Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr told reporters in a special briefing from the State Department’s Dubai Regional Media Hub that he has been assigned to “strengthen engagement with the Palestinian people and leadership.”

The creation of his role, he said, is “unprecedent and elevates the Palestinian – Palestinian issues” and America’s engagement on it. He expects to make “much more frequent trips out to the region,” where he said he will work with the Jerusalem-based Office of Palestinian Affairs, Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and his team, and the Palestinian Authority, the government of Israel, “on Palestinian-related issues.”

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More to the point, he said his position bolsters “the interests of Palestinians’ relationships with Israel and other partners in the region,” and emphasized – as has everyone else from the White House on down – that President Joe Biden “remains fully committed to a two-state solution.”

Of deeper interest was Amr’s emphasis that the Biden administration “supports two states along the ’67 lines where mutually agreed swaps remain the best way to achieve equal measures of security, prosperity, freedom, democracy, justice for Palestinians as well as Israelis.”

Amr quoted Biden’s statement during his visit to Jerusalem earlier this year that “the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that’s independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous, in addition to deserving to live – along with Israelis – safely and securely while enjoying equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.

“Really, I can’t stress that line enough.” He emphasized.

“Equal measures of freedom, equal measures of dignity, equal measures of justice are important in their own right and as a means to advancing a negotiated two-state solution.”

As an added bonus, Amr also emphasized the US also still remains committed to reopening the Jerusalem Consulate – which operated as a de facto US embassy to the Palestinian Authority.

Reopening the consulate – which was incorporated into the US embassy when it opened in Jerusalem during the administration of former President Donald Trump – “would put the US in the best position to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people,” Amr said.

It’s not clear why the US feels it cannot engage with and provide support from its embassy, in which there is a division completely devoted to the people of the Palestinian Authority.

Nor is it clear why the US doesn’t want to build a US embassy in the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah, home to the seat of its terror-supporting government – although perhaps that is the very reason the subject never came up.

Nevertheless, Amr said, the US will do its best to “lift up the lives of ordinary Palestinians so that they can be more free, more prosperous and more dignified.”

The new official US envoy to the Palestinian Authority took questions from five separate PA news outlets, and one question each from news outlets in Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. He took no questions from Hebrew-language Israeli media, and just one question from the international i24TV news outlet — which he then neatly ducked.

Mike Wagenheim, a diplomatic correspondent with i24TV, asked why the Palestinian Authority is now willing to engage with Amr’s office after initially refusing to accept its creation.

“I’m not going to get into that beyond saying we are working on our own timeline to advance US natural – national interests and priorities, and this seemed like the right time for us to advance things,” Amr said, completely ignoring the question.

“I know that sometimes the press gets a hold of stories and creates things, but we’ve been working on our own timeline, and this was the time – this was the timeline that we wanted to use to roll this out. But thank you for your question,” he added politely.

A reporter from the Palestinian Authority’s Al-Ayyam daily newspaper asked what the US is doing to “prevent escalation in the West Bank, which some expect to intensify more after the formation of the Israeli government.”

In response, Amr said the US is “closely tracking every reported incident every day” and is “deeply aware of the tragic loss of life that we’re seeing in the territories.” But to his credit, he also said “it’s up to the parties on the ground to take the steps needed to de-escalate the situation.”

Is it too much to hope he was referring to the Palestinian Authority’s reluctance to rein in its terrorists?

Click here to read the full transcript of the briefing.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.