Oct 15, 2022 - World

White House "very disappointed" by Palestinian president's remarks to Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Astana on October 13, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Astana on Oct. 13. Photo: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is “deeply disappointed” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he mistrusts the Biden administration, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council told Axios.

Why it matters: Since assuming office, the Biden administration has resumed sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian people that was cut during the Trump administration.

Driving the news: Abbas met Putin on the sidelines of an international summit in Kazakhstan and told him the Palestinians do not trust America and that the U.S. can’t mediate on its own between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

  • “We don't trust it, we don't rely on it, and under no circumstances can we accept that America is the sole party in resolving a problem,” Abbas said.
  • The Palestinian president then added he is “happy and satisfied” with Russia's support of the Palestinians.
  • "Russia stands by justice and international law and that is enough for us," he said.

Behind the scenes: Two U.S. sources briefed on the issue told me Biden administration officials were furious and made it clear to Abbas’ advisers.

  • Abbas' remarks came a week after his de facto No. 2 Hussein al-Sheikh was hosted at the White House by national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Al-Sheikh also met with deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman and several other U.S. officials.
  • It was the first official visit by a Palestinian official to Washington since December 2017 when the Palestinian president decided to boycott the White House after Trump announced he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The big picture: The diplomatic stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is eroding Abbas' legitimacy and President Biden's visit in July didn’t result in any political deliverables.

  • The tensions between the Biden administration and the Palestinian leadership are growing amid escalating violence in the occupied West Bank.

What they're saying: “We were deeply disappointed to hear President Abbas’ remarks to President Putin. Russia does NOT stand for justice and international law, as evidenced by the latest vote at the UN General Assembly,” a White House national security council spokesperson told Axios. The UN general assembly passed a resolution this week to condemn Russia's annexations in Ukraine.

  • The National Security Council spokesperson said Putin is a “far cry” from the type of international partner needed to constructively address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • “President Biden, in contrast, has demonstrated U.S. commitment for decades to seeking creative solutions and working toward the lasting peace needed to advance stability and prosperity throughout the Middle East,” the spokesperson said.
  • Palestinian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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