President Mahmoud Abbas meets Jake Sullivan and seeks US pressure on Israel to halt its illegal settlement construction and its "daily killings and incursions into Palestinian cities and towns."
Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas has met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, appealing to the Biden administration to stop the Israeli government from pressing ahead with escalatory measures against the Palestinians.
The new Israeli coalition's policies "are destroying the remaining chances of achieving peace and stability in the region," Abbas told Sullivan, according to a statement from his office on Thursday.
He urged the United States "to intervene before it is too late to stop these unilateral measures."
Sullivan also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two allies' highest level in-person talks since Israel's most far-right government ever took power last month.
His visit comes amid unease in Washington over Netanyahu's policies and over several members of his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox governing coalition, which is already taking a hard line against the Palestinians and is expected to ramp up construction in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Israel's new government has already proven to be a headache for the Biden administration, with extremist Cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir storming Al Aqsa Mosque complex and the coalition taking combative steps against the Palestinian Authority that run counter to Biden's efforts to boost US-Palestine ties.
US officials have previously expressed concerns about at least two far-right senior Cabinet ministers, Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have expressed vehement anti-Palestine views in the past. Nonetheless, Washington has said it will engage with Netanyahu's government based on its policies and not on personalities.
Ben-Gvir, a lawmaker known for anti-Arab vitriol and provocative stunts, is the minister of national security, a powerful position that puts him in charge of Israel's police force. Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party, which shares anti-Palestine views, oversees the Israeli defence body in charge of Palestinian civil affairs.
Abbas stressed to Sullivan the importance of the US exerting pressure on Israel to halt its illegal settlement construction and its "daily killings and incursions into Palestinian cities and towns."
Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military arrest raid into Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on Thursday. Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 18 years.
Abbas also called on Sullivan to reverse the Trump administration's punitive steps against the Palestinians by restoring the US Consulate in Jerusalem that oversees American ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and reopening the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington.
Netanyahu touts friendship with Biden
Meanwhile, a statement from Netanyahu's office said the two discussed Iran's nuclear programme and ways to broaden normalisation agreements reached under the Trump administration with four Arab countries.
"I've known President (Joe) Biden for 40 years as a great friend of Israel," Netanyahu told Sullivan, according to footage released from the meeting. "We see you as a trusted partner in matters of assuring security and, of course, advancing peace."
Sullivan told Netanyahu that Biden's "commitment to the state of Israel is bone deep," a "commitment that's rooted in shared history, shared interests and shared values."
Netanyahu told Sullivan that the measures, including halting Palestinian construction in parts of the occupied West Bank and withholding badly needed tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority that Israel collects on its behalf, represented a necessary response to the Palestinians pushing the UN's highest judicial body to give its opinion on the Israeli occupation.
Sullivan also met with senior Israeli security officials, including the head of the Mossad.
He and Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi held virtual discussions with their Bahraini and Emirati counterparts about how to deepen cooperation in "clean energy, emerging technology, regional security, and commercial relations," the White House said.
Israel normalised ties with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in US-backed agreements in 2020.