As American officials propose steps to renew direct links with the Palestinian leadership, Biden's national security team is taking steps to rebuild relations that had been cut while Trump sought a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest ally in the region.
For the second time in two days, Biden's administration Tuesday categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, something Trump had been purposefully hazy about while cutting support to the Palestinians and making efforts to support Israel's calls to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state.
The State Department announced Tuesday a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that works as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been prominent in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.
"During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state," the State Department stated.
"The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve," it added.
U.S. attendance in the meeting came after a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel's foreign minister in which Blinken emphasized that the new U.S. administration unambiguously advocates a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is dear to Trump, has avoided the two-state solution.
Biden talked with Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a setback that many found unusual and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, though, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid continuous concern in Israel about Biden's aims in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal.
The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace project, though it would have needed notable Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty.
The Palestinians, though, rejected it out of hand and attacked the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law.