Biden Team to Renew Contact With Palestinians, U.S. Envoy Says

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The U.S. will rebuild ties with the Palestinian Authority’s leadership as the Biden administration pledges to go back to a more traditional posture favoring a two-state solution to Mideast peace, according to the top American envoy to the United Nations.

The Biden administration will renew “U.S. relations with the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, relations which have atrophied over the last four years,” Richard Mills, the mission’s acting head, said Tuesday during a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East.

“President Biden has been clear in his intent to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people, and to take steps to reopen diplomatic missions that were closed by the last U.S. administration.”

The announcement reflects a near complete reversal of the Trump administration’s stance toward the Palestinians and marks the first comments on the conflict from a U.S. official at the UN since President Joe Biden took office.

Mills’ comments come as Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s nominee for the UN ambassador job, is scheduled for a Senate hearing Wednesday. Thomas-Greenfield is a veteran U.S. diplomat with experience across four continents, including State Department assignments in Jamaica, Nigeria, Switzerland and Pakistan, as well as in Washington as assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. focused its diplomatic efforts on strengthening ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia, seeking to build a coalition to isolate Iran and fostering peace deals between Israel and a handful of Arab nations.

At the Security Council on Tuesday, Mills said the U.S. will emphasize humanitarian issues, especially in Gaza, and seek to create the atmosphere needed for eventual peace talks, even as he conceded that Israel and the Palestinian leadership remain far apart for any immediate progress to be made.

Palestinian leaders broke off contact with the U.S. administration after former Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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