Escalating Tensions Between the Biden Administration and the PA

Severe tensions persist between the PA and the Biden administration, fueled by recent American vetoes in the UN Security Council and the administration's insistence on comprehensive reforms within the PA, including granting real powers to the new government. Mahmoud Abbas adamantly maintains full and centralized control over the PA and is banking on the upcoming US presidential elections to potentially alleviate the pressure he faces.

Last week, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rebuffed a request by US Secretary of State Tony Blinken to meet during his visit to Israel, indicating the strained relations.

Senior PLO officials, including Mahmoud Abbas and Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee, also declined a meeting with Blinken at an economic conference held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The primary catalyst for this discord was the Palestinian outcry over the Biden administration’s veto of a proposed UN Security Council resolution on April 19, seeking full membership for the “State of Palestine” in the UN. American officials expressed surprise at the Palestinian reaction, particularly as the US endeavors to advance the two-state solution, including through expected normalization agreements between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Despite receiving advance notice from the administration about the impending veto, Mahmoud Abbas’s frustration is evident.

Notably, during the recent conflict, the US vetoed four ceasefire proposals in the Security Council.

Yet, while Abbas engaged with Foreign Minister Blinken six times during the conflict, his recent refusal signifies a display of defiance.

A senior PA official reveals Abbas’s fury at the Biden administration’s demands for extensive reforms, including tackling corruption and terrorism within the PA’s political system.

The Biden administration, along with several Arab countries, insists on substantive changes, viewing the recent formation of a technocratic government led by Muhammad Moustafa as insufficient.

Senior Fatah officials assert that the Biden administration is well aware of the current government’s limitations, labeling it a “puppet government” controlled by Abbas and his inner circle.

Despite Abbas’s efforts to placate demands by appointing new officials, including a new chairman for the Central Election Committee and new governors, tensions persist.

The Biden administration has made it clear that financial aid to the PA hinges on meaningful reform.

However, Prime Minister Muhammad Moustafa’s recent visits to Saudi Arabia and Algeria failed to secure any aid due to US obstruction, exacerbating the PA’s financial woes.

Abbas’s attempts to consolidate power by appointing associates to key positions, despite objections from the newly formed government, have drawn criticism and further strained relations.

These moves, viewed as clandestine by critics, only exacerbate tensions.

As tensions between Abbas and the Biden administration escalate, Abbas remains resolute, anticipating a potential shift following the US presidential elections later this year. However, the future of Palestinian-US relations remains uncertain amid these ongoing challenges.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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