Biden elevates the State Department official to a new role focused solely on the Palestinians

US President Joe Biden has promoted a senior State Department official to a new position responsible for dealing with the Palestinians, a senior US official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

Hadi Amr, who for the past two years served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, has been appointed Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs.

The Biden administration had hoped to announce the upgrade last May, describing it as an upgrade in US relations with the Palestinians, the Times of Israel revealed at the time. But when US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken informed the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, of the plan, the latter asked the Biden administration not to proceed with it, considering the promotion insufficient in light of Washington’s failure to fulfill its promise to reopen the United States. The Consulate in Jerusalem – the de facto mission for the Palestinians that was closed by former President Donald Trump in 2019.

But in recent weeks, the Biden administration has returned to Abbas with the suggestion — Amr was in the area last week for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials — and the PA president agreed to work with him in his new position, an official familiar with the matter said, confirming a story on the Axios news site. .

The official said that outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu were briefed on Amr’s new role early on as well.

Last May, two officials familiar with the matter said that Andrew Miller would replace Amr as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs. Miller served as a political advisor at the US Mission to the United Nations and director for military issues for Egypt and Israel on the White House National Security Council during the Obama administration. It was not immediately clear if he would replace Amr.

The US Consulate General building in Jerusalem, March 4, 2019. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

The senior State Department official said that, in his new position, Amr will continue to work out of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in Washington, while also coordinating closely with the US Embassy’s Jerusalem office on Palestinian affairs.

“This step serves American interests by enhancing our ability to deepen the US-Palestinian relationship and help manage challenges in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, as well as the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and our other partners in the region,” the official added. Creation decision [this new] A role has been taken to strengthen US-Palestinian relations.”

The official claimed that the administration remains committed to reopening the consulate in Jerusalem. Successive Israeli governments have opposed this move, and some degree of purchase from Jerusalem is needed.

Over the past year and a half, the Biden administration has put off fulfilling a campaign pledge, not wanting to destabilize the more moderate government led by Lapid and former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that was in place. While that priority is no longer there, as Netanyahu prepares to return to office, Biden’s preference for avoiding public spats with Israel is said to remain.

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