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

National security adviser Jake Sullivan's visit to Ramallah on Wednesday to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas comes amid growing Palestinian frustration with the Biden administration.

Why it matters: President Biden vowed to restore the U.S.-Palestinian relationship after it was severed almost entirely during the Trump administration. But Palestinian leaders are disappointed that he still hasn't implemented his promise to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Palestinian officials tell Axios.

Between the lines: The Israeli government has strongly opposed the reopening of the consulate, which served as the primary U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians before Trump closed it.

  • For now, the issue is on the back burner, though the administration continues to insist it will follow through.
  • The delay has made it more difficult to strengthen ties because the Palestinians are reluctant to engage with the Palestinian affairs unit in the U.S. Embassy to Israel, which absorbed the consulate's duties.
  • Palestinian leaders are also disappointed by the administration's lack of emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the sources say.
  • Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland heard those grievances when she visited Ramallah last week and met with Abbas, a source briefed on the matter told me.

What to watch: The Biden administration is very concerned by the political and economic crises in the West Bank and the prospect of a possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

  • Nuland spoke to Abbas last week about the need for reforms and for a technocratic government. Abbas asked for more U.S. financial aid, the source briefed on the meeting said.
  • Yes, but: Biden is constrained by laws that prohibit aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it is providing allowances to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and their families, a practice the Trump administration termed "pay for slay."
  • A senior Biden administration official told reporters ahead of Sullivan’s visit that he would raise the U.S. opposition to those payments with Abbas.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - World

Ahead of Iran deal decision, White House to "focus the fire on Trump"

Jen Psaki briefs the press as Jake Sullivan looks on. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

With the Iran nuclear talks reaching a critical moment, the White House plans to focus much of its public messaging in the coming weeks on attacking former President Donald Trump for leaving the 2015 deal, two sources briefed on the White House plans told me.

Why it matters: The Biden administration thinks it's now just a matter of weeks before the critical decision point: Either a deal will be reached and the U.S. will return to the nuclear deal or talks will break down and the administration will move to put more pressure on Iran, the sources said.

Jan 12, 2022 - World

Jordan seeks big aid package from Biden

Ayman Safadi. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

AMMAN, Jordan — With a big aid package granted by the Trump administration about to expire, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has traveled to Washington seeking a new and improved deal.

Why it matters: Jordan is struggling with an economic crisis and is dependent on U.S. financial assistance, which totaled $1.65 billion in 2021. A five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) that guarantees at least $1.25 billion in annual U.S. aid expires in September.

Updated 16 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.