US, PA resume economic dialogue after 5-year pause

US and Palestinian officials gathered virtually December 14 to renew the U.S.-Palestinian Economic Dialogue (Ned Price - StateDepartment)

Middle East Monitor  /  December 15, 2021

American and Palestinian officials yesterday held the first economic meeting in five years, a statement issued by the US Department of State said.

A wide range of US and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and agencies attended the meeting, which was held virtually. “They discuss[ed] current and future areas of economic cooperation,” the statement said.

“Participants recognized the importance of restored political and economic relations between the U.S. government and the Palestinian Authority and pledged to expand and deepen cooperation and coordination across a range of sectors.”

It stated that senior US and Palestinian officials “discussed key topics, including infrastructure development, access to U.S. markets, U.S. regulations, free trade, financial issues, renewable energy and environmental initiatives, connecting Palestinian and American businesses, and addressing obstacles to Palestinian economic development.”

Concluding their dialogue, the two sides agreed “to work on several crucial issues to advance the economic prosperity of the Palestinian people.”

“This year’s dialogue was a testament to the importance of U.S.-Palestinian economic relations and the opportunity to increase collaboration on economic issues of shared importance,” the statement also said.

During the meeting, US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert said: “Growing the Palestinian economy will play a critical role in advancing our overarching political goal: a negotiated two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.”

In 2018, former US President Donald Trump blocked nearly all aid to the Palestinians after he severed ties with the Palestinian Authority. The move was widely seen as an attempt to force the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel on terms the Palestinian leadership branded as an effort to deny them a viable state.

The cuts came after Palestinian leaders decided to boycott the Trump administration’s peace efforts over its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, upending decades of US policy.

He went on to cut all US funding to the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides aid to around 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East with funds from UN member states.