At a moment that talks and formal relations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Mahmoud Abbas and the White House have remained effectively frozen for years since the December 6, 2017 US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, an Israeli media report revealed early this week that the PA has been in quiet talks with the Joe Biden campaign in the lead-in to the election.
The Jerusalem Post on Monday cited a US media outlet that exclusively covers the Middle East as follows: “Two senior Palestinian officials have confirmed to The Media Line that the Palestinian Authority is maintaining direct channels of communication with the campaign of US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.”
One PA official in the report said that “Having dialogue with the Democratic candidate is important to the leadership.”
The unnamed sources added that “We want to let Mr. Biden know that we are willing and ready to talk.” The Palestinian public too is said to be “desperate” for a Biden win.
The irony is that if it were the Russians or Chinese reaching out to a presidential rival ahead of an election, it would be front page news and branded as ‘interference’ – however, in this case the story has barely made a blip in US coverage.
Despite the White House having supposedly invited the Palestinians to the negotiating table the PA has in past statements maintained that it was cut out of any substantive talks – instead officials have said Israeli got everything it wanted without any significant compromise. This includes plans which Netanyahu hasn’t acted on yet of annexing up to one-third of the West Bank, including the sprawling Jordan Valley area.
A second PA official privy to communications with the Biden campaign said the following as cited in the Jerusalem Post/Media Line reporting:
“We are sure that if he wins, he will reassert the US position on the two-state solution and order the PLO office in Washington reopened.”
The Palestinian side has long insisted it sees east Jerusalem, currently under Israeli occupation and administration, as crucial to a future Palestinian state’s future capital.
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) November 3, 2020
One Palestinian political observer and commentator named Jihad Harb said Arabs in the region are overwhelmingly rooting for a Biden victory this week:
“The Palestinians usually prefer the Democrats, and the Palestinian leadership prefers that the president be from the Democratic Party,” he said.
It’s also well-known that in other Mideast hotspots where President Trump has brought pressure to bear, such as in Iran, authorities and the population are seen as hoping for a Democrat victory in Tuesday’s election.