Palestinians sigh in relief after Biden victory: ready to resume negotiations and coordination without preconditions

November 9, 2020 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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A sigh of relief and satisfaction, disgust for President Donald Trump and anticipation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s weakening, along with fears of renewed tension between Fatah and Hamas – this is how the Palestinian arena reacted to Joe Biden’s victory.

Gazan people, supporters of the Fatah Movement and its leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), waving flags and placards in a demonstration against US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan and in favor of Mahmoud Abbas’ planned speech in the UN. Gaza, Feb 11, 2020. Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS

Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris following their victory in the US 2020 elections.

In a statement, Abbas expressed his desire to work with the Biden administration to strengthen Palestinian-American relations on the path to independence for the Palestinian people and to work for stability, peace and security in the region and around the world.

Muhammad Majdalani, a senior PLO official, said Saturday that the Palestinians are ready to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.

The Saudi newspaper Ilaf quoted high-ranking sources in Ramallah that said that Abbas was ready to return immediately to the negotiating table with Israel based on the two-state solution.

He was further ready to receive the tax funds Israel has been collecting on its behalf, and resume security coordination with Israel, as a tribute to the president-elect, the report said.

Sources in Ramallah added that Abbas is expected to ask the Americans to return the American embassy to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.

In the Palestinian arena, one can see great satisfaction with Biden’s election alongside criticism and disgust for the outgoing president, Trump.

A Palestinian source said the Palestinians are having a hard time hiding their joy at Trump’s departure, which has brought the PA to the brink of extinction. Pictures of Abbas were circulated on social media with the caption “Trump has left, and Abu Mazen is still here.”

Senior members of the Palestinian leadership are not hiding their deep disgust for Trump. Hanan Ashrawi tweeted “America Detrumped! The world also needs to be able to breathe. Trumpism must be carefully scrutinized and remedied to restore the human, moral and legal equilibrium within and beyond the US. Such phenomena do not emerge from a vacuum. Now is the time for holistic and bold therapeutics.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said in an interview that Trump was the most extremist leader in his support of Israel at the expense of Palestinian rights and called on Biden to make a “historic correction” in US policy.

Haniya called on Biden to cancel Trump’s Deal of the Century peace plan and the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to reverse the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem and the budget cuts to UNRWA.

Khaled Mashaal, a senior Hamas official, said that “Trump is the evil that has passed from us” and added that he hopes that the PA will not rush back to the negotiating table and resume security coordination with Israel.

Hamas fears that the renewal of relations between the PA and the US will come at the expense of reconciliation with Hamas.

Sources in Ramallah told TPS Sunday that before the election, Abbas deliberately delayed decisions regarding the revocation of the PA’s recognition of Israel and reconciliation with Hamas, and refrained from issuing an election order in the PA until matters in the US became clear.

Tensions between Abbas and Hamas are now expected. His intention is to renew security coordination with Israel.

Muhammad Dahlan, the leader of the reformist movement in Fatah, wrote that “Biden’s victory is a positive development that limits the dangers posed by Trump and Netanyahu and opens a horizon for peace based on a two-state solution.”

However, Dahlan, like other Palestinian figures, added that the Palestinians must help themselves by stopping the split between Fatah and Hamas, and by holding elections that will give legitimacy to the Palestinian leadership and formulating a political vision.

Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian Initiative Party, said that “Trump was a criminal who sought to bring back the law of the jungle, and the worst leader in the modern era who posed a danger to all the peoples of the world,” but his failure does not remove the threat of the Deal of the Century because it is an Israeli program, he warned.

Nasser Laham, a journalist close to Abbas’ office, wrote that Biden’s victory is a loss to Israel and is expected to encourage the continuation of the anti-Netanyahu Black Flag demonstrations throughout Israel until Netanyahu falls.

Laham wrote that Netanyahu will not be able to stand up to the Democrats in the US or to the Jewish lobby that will sacrifice him for American Jewry. Laham added that Biden’s victory is a tail-wind to the “liberation and opposition movements” in the region, but there is reason to fear blows from Netanyahu against the “resistance” in the near future until Biden receives the keys to the White House in January.

Nabil Shaath, a political adviser to Abbas, told the Turkish Anadolu Agency that there has not been a worse president than Trump, while others in Ramallah warned against exaggerating the celebrations of victory over Biden’s achievement as the Palestinians must understand that this may be a mere pause in US policy and that in four years a much worse president for the Palestinians could return to the White House.

Mashal also warns that the next election in the US may be “revenge” since Democrats have no alternative to the Trumpism phenomenon and he warned against “the Palestinian bet on the Biden illusion.”

In an article written this morning by Palestinian journalist Hassan Asfour, a former PA minister, he called on the PA to present a roadmap and mobilize the rest of its forces, as demonstrations of joy may turn out to be a passing episode in the political world.

Asfour mentioned that the Palestinian arena is laden with serious problems and that the Palestinian situation is bleak and therefore the Palestinian leadership must not sink “into a winter hibernation.”

He demanded that the PA leadership act to revoke the recognition of Israel and declare a Palestinian state, and bring about internal reconciliation and elections and reactivate the PLO institutions and not just rely on Biden’s victory.

He also demanded that the eroded relations between the Palestinians and the Arab world be restored since Arab support is a mandatory condition for the realization of Palestinian rights.

Many of the leaders of the Arab states congratulated Biden and Harris.

The first to greet them was the President of Egypt, Abed al-Fatah al-Sisi. Mohammed al-Maktoum, the Amir of Dubai, also congratulated Biden and Harris and sent congratulations on the continued progress in relations between the two countries, which have been “strong relations for five decades.”

Muhammad bin Zayed, ruler of the United Arab Emirates, congratulated the victors and wished them prosperity.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudanese President Abdel Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan also welcomed Biden and Harris and expressed hope for building bridges of friendship and cooperation and for building relations for progress and promoting peace and stability.

Congratulations also came from Lebanon, Qatar, Ethiopia and Libya.

Journalist Faisal Qassem, a senior member of the Al-Jazeera network, wrote on his Twitter account, “Where do you propose to set up the mourning tent following Trump’s loss?”

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