The Biden-Harris administration is looking to hit the reset button with the Palestinian Authority, including the return to a more traditional (and consistently failed) position on a two-state solution, while rolling back several significant Trump administration positions on Israel.
The four-page memo, titled, “The U.S. Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward,” was obtained by The National, an English-language news outlet based in the United Arab Emirates. It was reportedly presented to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 1 by the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs Joey Hood, and drafted by deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs Hady Amr and his team.
According to the memo, the Biden administration will seek to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace under a two-state solution framework “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees.”
While the Trump administration endorsed the concept of a two-state solution, critics considered Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, unveiled in January 2020, as ignoring long-held Palestinian Authority demands and being more favorable towards Israel. The Trump plan was endorsed by Israel as a starting point for negotiations but rejected outright by the Palestinian Authority. Trump’s plan also proved there is more than one path to peace.
The memo added that America will “take a two-fold approach of maintaining and ideally improving the U.S. relationship with Israel by deepening its integration into the region while resetting the U.S. relationship with the Palestinian people and leadership.”
The memo also outlines re-establishing diplomatic contact with the Palestinian Authority, which was largely severed by the Palestinians during the Trump administration after the former president recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Later, Trump shuttered the PLO office in Washington, D.C., and cut off most U.S. assistance to the Palestinians under the Taylor Force Act, which prohibited U.S. support over the Palestinians payments to terrorists or their families.
The memo lays out the goal of re-establishing ties—to start, with assistance and aid to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are planning a full range of economic, security and humanitarian assistance programs, including through U.N. Relief and World Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Prior to the fuller launch, we plan to announce $15 million in COVID-related humanitarian assistance,” the memo reportedly says.
Additionally, the memo discusses other topics, including developing a U.S. policy towards Palestinian Authority elections, further endorsing Arab-Israeli relations and reducing Palestinian Authority incitement to violence.
It also suggests rolling back some Trump administration policies favorable towards Israel, such as country of origin labels on products manufactured in Israeli-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria. The Trump administration permitted them to be labeled “Israel,” “Product of Israel” or “Made in Israel” when exported to the United States.
Finally, it also outlines strategies to reform Palestinian Authority society and “to obtain a Palestinian commitment to end payments to individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.”