Newly appointed US Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr spoke this afternoon (Wednesday) with journalists from the Middle East and stated that the Biden Administration remains committed to the Two-State Solution and will continue to apply pressure on Israel to allow the US to open a consulate for the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem.
Amr called the creation of his position “unprecedented” and said that it “elevates the Palestinian issue and our engagement on it.”
“This move is completely consistent with the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthen US engagement with the Palestinian people and leadership that we’ve launched into since day one and even before taking office," he said.
He added that the Biden administration's creation of the Special Representative "bolsters our ability to manage challenges in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship."
Amr said that the administration is committed to the principle of two states with borders based on the pre-1967 lines.
“The administration supports two states along the ’67 lines where mutually agreed swaps remain the best way to achieve equal measures, security, prosperity, freedom, democracy and justice for Palestinians as well as Israelis," Amr said.
He stressed that President Biden “stated that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that’s independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous, in addition to deserving to live along with Israelis safely and securely while enjoying equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy.”
He noted that while there is currently no consulate for the PA, the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem contains a Palestinian Affairs Unit which has assumed the responsibilities the old consulate had.
“We continue to believe that reopening the consulate would put the US in the best position to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people. We will continue to discuss this issue with our Israeli and Palestinian partners," he said.
Amr said that the administration was seeking to prevent an escalation in the security situation, which has seen five Israelis murdered in terrorist attacks in recent weeks.
“We are closely tracking every reported incident every day and we are deeply aware of the tragic loss of lives that we’re seeing in the territories,” he said. “I really want to stress, it’s up to the parties on the ground to take the steps needed to deescalate the situation. We are going to stay focused on our goal of advancing towards equal measures of security, freedom, and justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
Amr also said that he was proud of the fact that the current administration has renewed aid to UNRWA, pointing out that the United States is now the world’s largest donor to UNRWA.
“We’ve given about $680 million to UNRWA over the last 18 months and we are going to stay committed to supporting that organization,” he said.
“I just got back a few week ago from a trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah where in Ramallah we held the first in-person US-Palestinian economic dialogue in six years. We met with leadership in the Palestinian private sector and the Palestinian Authority and came up with a list of numerous ways that we plan to work together over the course of the coming year to bolster the US-Palestinian economic relationship and help grow the Palestinian economy.”
Last week, the State Department announced the creation of Amr's new position which focuses on improving America's relationship with the Palestinian Authority.
“The Washington-based Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs will engage closely with the Palestinians and their leadership and, together with Ambassador [Thomas] Nides and his team, continue to engage with Israel on Palestinian-related issues," a State Department official said.