Photo Credit: U.S. State Department/Twitter
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on May 25, 2021.

US and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials met virtually on Tuesday to renew the US-Palestinian Economic Dialogue (USPED), the first such meeting in five years.

The USPED was stopped during President Donald Trump’s tenure, when relations between Washington and Ramallah deteriorated.

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The senior-level dialogue brought together a wide range of agencies and ministries from the US government and the PA to discuss areas of economic cooperation.

“Participants recognized the importance of restored political and economic relations between the US government and the Palestinian Authority and pledged to expand and deepen cooperation and coordination across a range of sectors,” the State Department stated.

The topics in discussion included infrastructure development, access to US markets, US regulations, free trade, financial issues, renewable energy and environmental initiatives, connecting Palestinian and American businesses, and “addressing obstacles to Palestinian economic development.”

The two sides agreed to work on several crucial issues to “advance the economic prosperity of the Palestinian people.”  The US team outlined programs that “could support the PA’s efforts towards financial issues, trade, and promoting foreign direct investment.”

“This year’s dialogue was a testament to the importance of US-Palestinian economic relations and the opportunity to increase collaboration on economic issues of shared importance,” the State Department said.

During opening remarks, US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert underscored the Biden-Harris Administration’s belief that “the Palestinian people deserve to live in freedom, security, and prosperity.”

She noted that “growing the Palestinian economy will also play a critical role in advancing our overarching political goal: a negotiated two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.”

This meeting comes just weeks after the US transferred $10 million in financial aid to the PA’s coffers in October, for the first time since March 2017.

The US suspended its support for the PA in early 2017, and later suspended its support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). USAID has suspended its work in the PA since 2018, but two months ago renewed its support for local projects.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.