Abbas meets senior US diplomat Nuland

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well as Israeli officials

During the meeting with Victoria Nuland in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas said Israel must stop unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution. Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has met US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland as part of her trip to the West Bank and Israel.

Ms Nuland is the highest-level US official to meet Mr Abbas since Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the leader during the Gaza conflict in May.

She wrote on Twitter that she held a “productive discussion” with Mr Abbas on Monday “on the renewed US relationship with Palestinians, respect for human rights and democracy and support for a two-state solution.”

During the meeting in Ramallah, Mr Abbas said Israel must stop unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Palestinian and US officials met virtually for their first economic dialogue in five years.

The meeting included discussions on infrastructure development, US market access, free trade, financial issues, renewable energy and the environment, and obstacles to Palestinian economic development.

“Participants recognised the importance of restored political and economic relations between the US government and the Palestinian Authority and pledged to expand and deepen co-operation and co-ordination across a range of sectors,” the two sides wrote in a joint statement following the dialogue.

President Joe Biden in April restored $235 million in economic and humanitarian aid for the Palestinians that former president Donald Trump had frozen.

“Growing the Palestinian economy will also play a critical role in advancing our overarching political goal: a negotiated two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” Yael Lempert, the US assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, said after the dialogue.

During her trip, Ms Nuland also met Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev as well as a range of Palestinian and Israeli civil society members.

Ms Nuland simply noted that she exchanged “views on policies to ensure Israelis and Palestinians can enjoy equal measures of freedom, security and prosperity” with Mr Barlev.

But Mr Barlev came under criticism from right-wing members of the Israeli governing coalition for tweeting that the two had discussed “settler violence and how to reduce tension in the area and strengthen the Palestinian Authority".

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also jumped in to defend Israeli settlers in the West Bank — without mentioning Ms Nuland or Mr Barlev by name.

The Biden administration in October criticised Israel’s plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, with State Department spokesman Ned Price calling it “completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tension and to ensure calm” and damaging to the prospects for a two-state solution.

Updated: December 14th 2021, 10:05 PM