At the first Security Council briefing on Middle East issues since President Biden took office, the acting United States United Nations ambassador made it a point to say the country’s position and policy will be to support a two state solution between Israel and Palestine, and it will endeavor to renew relations with Palestinian leadership, which he said have “atrophied” for four years.
Richard Mills, speaking Tuesday at a virtual UN briefing, said the Biden administration supports “a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
He added that “US diplomatic engagement will begin from the premise that sustainable progress must be based on active consultation with both sides and that ultimate success requires the active consent of both sides.”
He elaborated that the US will urge both Israel and Palestinian Authority “to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement to violence, and providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.”
Notably, the US will “restore credible US engagement with Palestinians as well as Israeli’s.”
Mills said this is not a move that will favor Palestinian leadership, adding US assistance benefits millions of ordinary Palestinians and “helps to preserve a stable environment,” that benefits both parties.
“At the same time, I must be clear, the U.S. will maintain its steadfast support for Israel,” Mills said.
The Biden Administration also “welcomes” what he described as “normalization agreements between Israel and UN Member States in the Arab world, as well as Muslim-majority countries.”
Some background: Former President Donald Trump in January of 2020 backed a Middle East plan that he claimed was a “realistic two-state solution” but catered to nearly every major Israeli demand, and was immediately rejected by Palestinians.
Also during his tenure, in 2018, following a review of US assistance to the Palestinian Authority, he directed the State Department to withdraw $200 million in aid that was originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza. Trump in the final months of his presidency announced a peace deal amounting to the “full normalization of relations” between Israel and the UAE, a joint statement calling it “historic diplomatic breakthrough.” The deal included Israel’s plan to temporarily suspend the annexation of its West Bank.