Middle East peace starts with Palestine, Abbas tells Biden
Jerusalem, Jul 15 (EFE).- The key to peace in the Middle East lies with ending Israel’s occupation of Palestine and recognizing the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, president Mahmoud Abbas told his United States counterpart Joe Biden on Friday.
At a joint press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem after a meeting between the two leaders, Abbas urged Biden to recognize the state of Palestine by “enabling the Palestinian people to obtain their legitimate rights and with ending the Israeli occupation of our land.”
“After 74 years of catastrophe, evictions and occupation, is it not time to end the occupation?” Abbas said.
The Palestinian National Authority president said his meeting with Biden was also an opportunity to consolidate bilateral relations.
“We discussed how the US can contribute to creating the climate for a political horizon that will lead to a fair and lasting peace,” he said.
Abbas also demanded that the US hold accountable those responsible for the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May during an Israeli raid in the West Bank. Biden said the US was insisting on a “full and transparent accounting of her death.”
“Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that is independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous,” Biden said following Abbas’ comments.
The US president assured his Palestinian counterpart that the US was a “partner” and that his administration was committed to bringing peace to the region.
“Even if the ground is not right at this moment to restart negotiations, the US and my administration will not give up on bringing Palestinians and Israelis and both sides closer together,” he said.
“Above all, there must be an end to the violence that has devastated too many families, it is heart wrenching,” Biden said.
“There must be a political horizon that the Palestinan people can actually see or at least feel,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, Biden visited the Augusta Victoria Health Center in occupied East Jerusalem, where he announced a $100 million dollars donation to the Palestinian hospital network.
Biden is on his first official Middle East tour since taking office.
He will be heading to Saudi Arabia later on Friday, where he is expected to meet with crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, whom the CIA say was behind the 2018 murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. EFE