Biden backs two-state solution along 1967 lines to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict
President Biden stressed in a speech after his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Friday that a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps is the best way to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Why it matters: Biden's address — the first time as president he laid out parameters for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — was seen as a win for the Palestinians, who were hoping to get a diplomatic achievement from the president's visit in the form of a more detailed U.S. public position on the conflict.
- His comments brought the U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back to the pre-Trump era and close to the position of the Obama administration.
Driving the news: Biden arrived in Bethlehem after a short visit to the Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem where he announced $100 million in U.S. assistance to six Palestinian hospitals in the area.
- Biden and Abbas met for 90 minutes and discussed the situation on the ground, Biden's talks with the Israeli leadership and his planned meetings with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia.
- In the meeting, Biden told Abbas that the U.S. position is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but stressed that it continues to be the policy of the U.S. that the specific boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem must be resolved through final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, the White House said.
- The White House added that Biden told Abbas it is important to create a "political horizon" or diplomatic process, and noted the U.S. is ready to work with Israelis, Palestinians and regional governments toward that goal. “In order to create the conditions for negotiations, it was important for both parties to avoid unilateral measures," Biden told Abbas, according to the White House readout of the meeting.
What they're saying: Biden said during the press conference with Abbas that both Israelis and Palestinians have deep roots in the land and stressed that even though a solution to the conflict is far away, there must be a political horizon for Palestinians.
- Biden said that Jerusalem has a central place in the national vision of both Israelis and Palestinians — a hint for the need for a Palestinian capital in parts of Jerusalem.
- He stressed that Muslims, Jews and Christians have a connection to Jerusalem and that the city needs to be a city of all its people. He added that the status quo at the holy sites must be maintained.
- Abbas told Biden at the press conference that the time has come to end Israeli occupation. "They key for peace in the region is recognition of a Palestinian state and giving the Palestinian people its rights," Abbas said.
- Abbas warned that the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines is on the table now, but it's unclear if it will stay that way in the future.
State of play: After his meeting with Abbas, Biden announced another $201 million in assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is in charge of helping Palestinian refugees. The Trump administration had suspended all U.S. funding to UNRWA and Biden resumed the aid after he took office.
- Biden also received a commitment from the Israeli government to move forward with allowing the installation of 4G networks in the occupied West Bank with the aim of operating it by the end of 2023, the White House said.
- Biden secured Israeli agreement to convene the joint Israeli-Palestinian economic committee for the first time since 2009, according to the White House officials.
What's next: After the visit to the West Bank, Biden returned to Ben Gurion airport and departed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the next leg of his Middle East trip.