Palestinians pin peace hopes on Biden

Palestinians pin peace hopes on Biden
People celebrate the presidential race being called in favor of President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, at the Country Club Plaza shopping district in Kansas City, Mo. (AP)
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Updated 08 November 2020

Palestinians pin peace hopes on Biden

Palestinians pin peace hopes on Biden
  • Leaders call for Washington contacts ‘to be renewed quickly’

AMMAN: Palestinian leaders watching the results of the US elections say they are hoping for a re-engagement with Washington after years of squandered efforts by the Trump administration in the quest for peace.

Senior Palestinian officials were asked during the crucial days after the poll to stay quiet in order to avoid provoking the US president, who will stay in power until Jan. 20.

Vera Baboun, former Bethlehem mayor and a member of the Palestinian National Council, told Arab News that Palestinians are looking forward to the US government acknowledging their cause.

“We hope that President-elect Joe Biden will respond positively to the call by President (Mahmoud) Abbas for an international conference for peace early in 2021.”

Baboun said that diplomatic contacts must be renewed at a high level quickly so the upcoming conference can have substantive discussions.

Kamala Harris, Biden’s deputy and running mate, has said that a Biden administration is committed to a two-state solution and will renew contacts with the Palestinian leadership, including reopening the Palestinian mission in Washington and the US mission in East Jerusalem.

She also said that the US will restore financial support to the United Nations Refugee Agency and other humanitarian programs supporting the Palestinian people.

Wadie Abunassar, director of the Haifa-based International Center for Consultations, told Arab News that Biden will certainly help restart Israeli-Palestinian talks, but won’t necessarily bring Palestinians an independent state.

“It is difficult seeing Biden granting high priority to the Israeli-Palestinian track, especially with current Israeli and Palestinian leaders (Netanyahu and Abbas) around.”

But Abunassar believes that Biden will make serious efforts “to maintain good ties with Israel and will avoid pressing it too much, especially in the absence of any serious Muslim or Arab pressure on him to grant Palestinians the right to self-determination.”

However, former Palestinian government spokesman Jamal Dajani warned that Biden is unlikely to be the savior of Palestinians.

“I am not sure if Biden as president will be able to undo the damage done by Trump,” Dajani said before calling on the Palestinian leadership to “stop banking on the US.”

While Palestinian leaders refuse to link the renewal of contacts with Washington to the resumption of security ties with Israel, a number of Palestinians contacted by Arab News said that they are hoping that the departure of Trump and the election of a friendlier Biden administration might help resolve the current impasse with Israel.

Of extreme interest to many Palestinians is the resolution of the tax revenue conflict that has resulted in the deprivation of money earmarked for Palestinians that has been held by Israel.


Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
Updated 51 sec ago

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
  • The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit
  • Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic”

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric has urged President Michel Aoun to set up a reconciliation meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a cabinet and end the country’s political deadlock.
The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, leaving Lebanon rudderless as it sinks deeper into economic crisis.
Tensions between Aoun and Hariri, who publicly traded blame in December after failing to agree a cabinet, came to a head last week when a leaked video showed Aoun apparently calling Hariri a liar.
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic” and there was no excuse to further delay forming a government.
“We wish that his excellency the president take the initiative and invite the prime minister-designate to a meeting.”
Veteran Sunni politician Hariri was named premier for a fourth time in October, promising to form a cabinet of specialists to enact reforms necessary to unlock foreign aid, but political wrangling has delayed the process since.
The leaked video that circulated on social media last week showed Aoun talking to caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab about Hariri.
“There is no government formation, he (Hariri) is saying he gave me a paper, he is lying,” Aoun is heard saying.
Sources in the president’s office said the dialogue had been taken out of context and was not complete.
After the video circulated, Hariri tweeted biblical verses referring to wisdom not residing in bodies that were amenable to sin.
The souring of the relationship between Aoun and Hariri comes as the country continues to struggle with an acute financial crisis that has seen the currency sink by about 80%.
Lebanon’s health care system is also buckling under the pressure of a severe spike in COVID-19 infections. Medical supplies have dwindled as dollars have grown scarce.