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Biden and Abbas in 2010. Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

The White House rejected a request from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week, U.S. and Palestinian sources say.

Why it matters: It's unusual for a U.S. president to reject a meeting request from the Palestinians, and it could be seen as further indication of how low the Israeli-Palestinian issue is on Biden’s foreign policy priority list.

The backstory: Several weeks ago, when Abbas and his aides were discussing whether to visit the UN in person, they decided to check the possibility of meeting Biden on the sidelines in New York or soon afterward in Washington.

  • The White House told the Palestinians Biden wouldn't be doing any bilateral meetings in New York and his schedule wouldn't allow for a meeting in Washington, U.S. and Palestinian sources said.
  • That contributed to Abbas' decision not to travel to New York and to send a videotaped speech instead, the sources added.
  • In the end, Biden visited New York only briefly, but he did have three bilateral meetings there. The White House declined to comment for this story.

What they're saying: In his speech at the UN last Tuesday, Biden did stress that he supports a two-state solution, but acknowledged that “we are a long way from that goal at this moment."

Abbas warned in his own speech that Israel's actions would result in a "one-state solution," and he gave Israel a one-year ultimatum to end its occupation of the West Bank, after which time the Palestinians would consider withdrawing their recognition of Israel on the 1967 lines.

  • Abbas also indirectly criticized U.S. policy toward Israel, saying, “There are some countries that refuse to acknowledge the reality that Israel is an occupying power, practicing apartheid and ethnic cleansing."
  • "These countries proudly state that they have shared values with Israel. What shared values are you referring to? This has emboldened Israel, only furthering its arrogance and allowing it to reject and violate all UN resolutions."

Bennett, speaking on Monday at the UN, didn't mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all.

  • Bennett's aides say he felt there was already more than enough discussion of the topic at the UN and that Israel didn't need to be viewed through that prism.

What’s next: The Biden administration’s point man on Israel-Palestine, deputy assistant secretary of state Hady Amr, will travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah next Monday for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - World

Scoop: Israel and France hold secret talks to end NSO spyware crisis

Anyone listening? Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata secretly visited Paris several days ago for talks with his counterparts at the Élysée aimed at ending the crisis around the alleged use of Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO to hack the cell phones of President Emmanuel Macron and other top French officials, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The alleged misuse of NSO software has become a major diplomatic headache for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government. The crisis led to a partial freeze on diplomatic, security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and France and the suspension of high-level bilateral visits.

1 hour ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.

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