Wednesday, November 23, 2022

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

US President Joe Biden has promoted a senior State Department official to a new role in charge of engaging with the Palestinians, a senior US official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

Hady Amr, who for the past two years served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, has been named special representative for Palestinian affairs.

The Biden administration was hoping to announce the promotion last May, framing it as an elevation of US relations with the Palestinians, The Times of Israel revealed at the time. But when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas of the plan, the latter asked the Biden administration not to go forward with it, deeming the promotion as insufficient in light of Washington’s failure to follow through on its promise to reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem — the de facto mission to the Palestinians that was shuttered by former president Donald Trump in 2019.

In recent weeks though, the Biden administration came back to Abbas with the proposal — Amr was in the region last week for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials — and the PA leader agreed to work with him in his new role, an official familiar with the matter said, confirming a report on the Axios news site.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister-Designate Benjamin Netanyahu were updated on Amr’s new role ahead of time as well, the official said. READ MORE