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RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Wednesday said he hopes US President Joe Biden will keep promises his administration has made to the Palestinian people, including a pledge to reopen the American Consulate in Jerusalem.
He also talked about the difficulties the Palestinian Authority is facing, politically and financially. He spoke of his hope for change but presented little in the way of practical evidence that this coming, saying only: “There are promises.”
Shtayyeh added: “There are American promises related to reopening the American Consulate in Jerusalem, and we hope that they will be implemented.”
Former US President Donald Trump’s administration closed the consulate, Washington’s diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, in 2018 when it moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. When he took office in January this year, Biden said he would reopen the consulate but this has yet to happen.
Shtayyeh rejected Israeli proposals to reopen the consulate in Ramallah instead of Jerusalem, saying: “Ramallah is not the capital of Palestine. Ramallah is not Jerusalem and will not be.”
Speaking during a briefing of the foreign press, attended by Arab News, Shtayyeh also denied reports of a US initiative to form a Palestinian unity government.
The Israeli i24 news channel had reported that the Biden administration is planning an initiative to assemble a new government that would include ministers from Hamas and Fatah in an attempt to heal divisions.
The prime minister also criticized a recent announcement by Israeli authorities of plans to build more new settlement units in the West Bank, and called on the US and European nations to help preserve the two-state solution by putting pressure on Israel to halt its plans.
“Israel is waging three wars against us: A war against geography, through land confiscation; a war against the population, which is represented in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood; and its war against Palestinian money, through deductions from Palestinian revenues,” he said


Mohammed Shtayyeh said ‘there are American promises’ to restore the mission ‘and we hope that they will be implemented.’

Shtayyeh accused Israel of illegally confiscating between 220 million ($70.6 million) and 250 million shekels a month without any independent financial audit.

“We are bleeding, financially,” he added.

He said the Palestinian Authority is facing a financial deficit as a result of the Israeli actions, a decline in international and Arab funding in the past two years, and the decline in the local economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime, spending requirements remain the same despite the lack of finance, he added.

“We are carrying out our obligations, supporting the Gaza Strip and helping Jerusalem, as well as in different areas where the Palestinians are,” said Shtayyeh.

Some press reports have suggested that the Palestinian government might reduce the salaries of public-sector workers in an attempt to address the financial crisis.

“We hope that next year will be better,” Shtayyeh said. “There are Arab promises to resume support from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, as well as Algeria.”

Regarding the possibility of resuming the political process for negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, he said that there is no practical progress on this front.

“There is a political vacuum,” he added. “There is no political initiative to fill this vacuum and the US administration must abide by its promises that were included in the phone call between President Biden and President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Shtayyeh accused the Israeli government of refusing to engage in efforts to achieve peace, after comments by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett dismissing any possibility of a Palestinian state.

Asked about a reported sharp decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority among Palestinians, he said: “The failure to achieve any political result on the ground as a result of Israeli policies is undoubtedly limiting popularity.

“We know what tickles the sentiments of the general public but we are not looking for popularity; we have a national political vision that we are striving for.”


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