PRESIDENT ABBAS: (Via interpreter) In the name of God, the merciful, it gives me great pleasure to welcome U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his visit to Palestine. This was an opportunity for me to inform him of the recent developments here. We also extended the thanks of the – to the administration for the support it provides to the Palestinian people, especially the UNRWA.
We would like to assert at the outset that the priority should always be towards finding a political solution that would end the Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to resolve all permanent status issues, including the issues of the refugees and the release of all prisoners under the supervision and sponsorship of the Quartet and according to the – to international resolutions.
We would also like to stress that the state of Palestine abides by international law and all signed agreements, and is – also adheres to the path of peaceful popular resistance and working with the other countries and with the U.S. in – on combating terrorism in our region and the world. On the other hand, we also stress the importance of the implementation of what the administration of President Biden believes in, which is its belief in a two-state solution and the putting an end to settlements and the violence of settlers, and maintaining the historical status in al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing unilateral actions inside, and also the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, and the annulment of all American laws that consider the PLO a terrorist organization inciting violence.
The latest incidents in Europe have proven that there are double standards being flagrantly observed around the world. For in spite of the crimes of the Israeli occupation that have reached a stage of ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination, as conceded by human rights organizations, and its continuous aggression against sanctities and a lack of respect for international law, we don’t find any party that would hold Israel accountable for its actions as it acts as a state above all law. And the continuation of these Israeli unilateral actions will lead in the near future to a decision by the Palestinian central committee that would be implemented soon. What is happening in Palestine is something that we cannot be silent about, and international law cannot be partitioned or divided. And we here ask again, is it possible for the Israeli occupation authorities’ domination over the Palestinian people and the usurpation of its legitimate rights and dignity – can this continue without any other measures being taken in order to end this occupation?
So in conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Palestinian people for the success of the local elections that were held yesterday in an atmosphere of democracy. And we had hoped that these elections were – could have happened also or taken place in Gaza Strip, but Hamas agreement with that, in spite of Hamas’s participation in elections in the West Bank. We would like to express our sadness also for Israel’s prevention of the conduct of the presidential and legislative elections in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Secretary, once again I welcome you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Mr. President, thank you. Thank you for your hospitality and for the good exchange. The United States is committed to rebuilding our relationship with the Palestinian Authority and with the Palestinian people. We’ve been focused on concrete ways to help improve the lives of Palestinians. That includes: rejoining UNRWA, half a billion dollars in humanitarian assistance since April of last year, and economic support to the Palestinian private sector, to small businesses, job training for young people, and support for food-insecure families in the West Bank and in Gaza.
But this support is more than simply economic. We’re focused on advancing Palestinian civil and human rights, supporting civil society. Indeed, I just met, as I think you know, with civil society leaders in East Jerusalem. They are part of an incredibly rich mosaic that makes up the city. With them, and here as well with the president and his team, we talked about the importance of responsive, responsible governance. And at the heart of all of this is an ongoing, enduring commitment to the basic principle of the two-state solution. Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve to live with equal measures of freedom, of opportunity, security, of dignity, and we believe that the most effective way, ultimately, to give expression to that basic principle is through two states.
Of course, the two sides are very far apart, so we’ll continue our work, step by step, to try to bring them closer. We’ll work to prevent actions by either side that could raise tensions. That includes settlement expansion, settler violence, home demolitions, evictions, payments to people convicted of terrorism, incitements to violence. And today we also emphasized the imperative of having a peaceful Ramadan, Easter, Passover, all of which come together in a month’s time.
Mr. President, again I appreciate the opportunity to discuss all of this with you. I’m grateful for your hospitality. And we will continue to work together for the advancement of the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian people. We’re committed to that.