Friday, July 15, 2022

In the West Bank, unknown assailants opened fire at a car carrying 4 settlers to Joseph’s Tomb, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle, lightly injuring the 4 settlers. Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters in Kafr Qaddum, injuring 5 with baton rounds and others with tear gas. Palestinians protested U.S. president Joe Biden in Bethlehem ahead of the president’s visit (see below). (JP, MDW, WAFA 7/15; PCHR 7/21; UNOCHA 7/22)

U.S. president Joe Biden continued his 4-day Middle East trip, leaving Israel for East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In East Jerusalem, President Biden visited the Augusta Victoria Hospital, announcing $100 million in aid for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network that serves Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The funding of the hospital will need U.S. congressional approval. Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had cut U.S. funding in medical aid for the PA. Biden’s visit was the 1st by a sitting U.S. president to East Jerusalem, outside of the Old City. In Bethlehem, Biden and PA president Mahmoud Abbas met and held a press conference, where President Abbas stressed that a 2-state solution will not be tenable forever and called for accountability for Israel’s killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Additionally, Abbas called on the U.S. to reopen its consulate to Palestinians and delist the PLO from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, saying “we are not terrorists.” Biden for his part called for a “full and transparent” investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, voiced support for a 2-state solution along the 1967 borders with land swaps, and announced that Israel had said it would allow Palestinian phone companies to connect to 4G networks by the end of 2023. Biden also announced $201 million in funding for UNRWA and $15 million in aid for food security via the UN World Food Program and 2 NGOs. Additionally, it was reported that Israel will open the Allenby Bridge on a 24-hour basis and assess if the PA should have a presence at the crossing. It was reported by Palestinian sources that the 2 leaders gave separate statements after failing to agree on a joint statement. After meeting with President Abbas, Biden headed to Saudi Arabia where he was greeted by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman with a “fist-bump,” despite promising during his presidential campaign to make Saudi Arabia a pariah due to Crown Prince bin Salman’s involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It was announced by U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan that Saudi Arabia had opened its air space to all Israeli flights as part of the 2 countries’ path to normalization and Saudi officials said they would start discussions to approve flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia for Muslim pilgrims. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told CNN in an interview that his country remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, saying “we need to have a process, and this process needs to include the implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative. Once we have committed to a two-state settlement with a Palestinian state in the occupied territories with East Jerusalem as its capital, that’s our requirements for peace.” (ALM, HA, NYT 7/13; JP, POL, REU, TOI 7/14; AJ, AJ, AJ, AJ, ALM, ALM, AP, AP, AP, AX, AX, AX, AX, AX, AX, FOX, GDN, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, JP, MDW, MEE, MEE, NYT, NYT, REU, REU, REU, REU, REU, REU, REU, REU, REU, REU, TOI, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 7/15; AJ, ALM, AP, HA, HA, HA, JP, REU, WAFA 7/16; AJ, CNN, HA, HA, HA, INT, TOI, TOI 7/17; AJ, HA 7/18; HA 7/20; ALM 7/30)

As president Biden left the West Bank for Saudi Arabia, the UAE said it is opposed to a confrontational approach to Iran, seeking to send an ambassador to Iran to mend ties. (HA 7/15)