If the Palestinian leadership thought the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States was going to automatically reverse their fortunes, they might want to think again.
Biden’s transition team told the Palestinian Authority it must conduct presidential and legislative elections if it wants to see a resumption of ties with and aid from the US. That according to an unnamed source cited by Israel’s Tazpit Press Service (TPS) on Sunday.
The last Palestinian presidential election was in January 2005. A year later, in January 2006, the Hamas terrorist organization won the Palestinian legislative election. But PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused to appoint a Hamas prime minister, leading shortly after to the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by the terror group.
There hasn’t been an election since in the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas and Hamas are reportedly close to terms that would facilitate Palestinian presidential and legislative elections in the coming months. They can be sure that the new American administration will be watching closely.
Don’t celebrate too soon
The Palestinian leadership immediately rejected President Donald Trump’s new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and effectively cut off all official ties with Washington over the past four years.
The rift only widened when Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the eastern half of Jerusalem, moved the US Embassy there, and backed the eventual Israeli annexation of large swaths of the so-called “West Bank.”
Abbas and his regime were also angered over Trump brokering peace between Israel and several Arab states in the absence of a final status Israeli-Palestinian agreement. The Palestinians, and indeed much of the Arab world, had long maintained that normalization was impossible until the Palestinian issue was resolved. Trump proved that not to be true. (See: Palestinians Admit That Unless They Change Their Thinking, They’ll Lose Again)
While it would be too much to expect Biden to reverse most of the aforementioned Trump moves (and he likely wouldn’t be so inclined, anyway), the Palestinian Authority was hoping that he’d immediately do the following:
- Reopen the PLO embassy in Washington
- Reopen a separate US consulate in eastern Jerusalem to serve the Palestinians
- Reinstate US financial aid to the PA, including financing for the Palestinians’ private UN refugee organization, UNRWA.
But if the TPS report is accurate, it indicates that Biden might not even grant those concessions unless the Palestinians can finally demonstrate a commitment to human rights and the democratic process.