update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

In first meeting with new Palestinian Authority leader, Blinken welcomes plans to reform the PA

Last month, Blinken reportedly sat in on a meeting where the Emirati foreign minister called Ramallah's leadership "Ali Baba and the 40 thieves."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mohammed Mustafa in Sweimeh, Jordan, June 11, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mohammed Mustafa in Sweimeh, Jordan, June 11, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

In his first meeting with the new Palestinian Authority prime minister on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the PA’s plans to pass a series of administrative reforms.

Blinken stressed “the need for full and consistent implementation of those reforms to achieve the aspirations of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza” in his meeting in Sweimeh, Jordan, with Mohammad Mustafa, the P.A. prime minister, per a U.S. readout of the meeting.

The U.S. secretary also reaffirmed the Biden administration’s “support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel,” stated Matthew Miller, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, who accompanied Blinken on his overseas trip.

Blinken traveled to the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea on Tuesday to attend a Gaza aid summit hosted by Jordan, Egypt and the United Nations. It was part of the senior U.S. official’s regional tour, which included prior stops in Egypt and Israel.

Blinken also discussed the Gaza truce deal that U.S. President Joe Biden outlined on May 31 during his tête-à-tête with Mustafa, whom Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas appointed in March. (Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor, met with Mustafa and other Palestinian officials on May 19.)

“The secretary underscored that the proposal would greatly benefit both Palestinians and Israelis,” per the Foggy Bottom readout. “He reiterated that Hamas should accept the proposal without further delay.”

The Biden administration wants the Palestinian Authority to assume control of Gaza after the completion of Israel’s military operation against Hamas. Jerusalem vehemently rejects that due to Ramallah’s support for terrorism.

Mustafa has claimed Ramallah aims to enact wide-ranging reforms and hold its first election since 2006. But he has yet to provide a timetable for a vote, saying it would depend on “realities on the ground” in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leader’s political program also made no mention of Hamas, which has the support of the majority of the Palestinian public but is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by most Western countries, including the United States.

During a meeting of Arab nations in late April that Blinken attended, Emirati foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called the leadership of the Palestinian Authority “Ali Baba and the 40 thieves,” according to five sources cited in an Axios report last week.

Blinken United Arab Emirates
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed in Sweimeh, Jordan, on June 11, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

Axios reported that a shouting match erupted during the April 29 meeting in Riyadh that also included the top diplomats of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait, as well as top P.A. official Hussein al-Sheikh.

Al-Sheikh was said to have complained that while Ramallah has created a new government as Washington and Arab countries requested, it still isn’t getting adequate political and financial support.

Towards the end of the meeting, the Emirati foreign minister pushed back and told al-Sheikh he had yet to see any significant reform inside the Palestinian Authority.

The Emirati diplomat then denounced the P.A. leadership as “Ali Baba and the 40 thieves” and claimed officials in Ramallah are “useless” and “replacing them with one another will only lead to the same result.”

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