The Biden Administration announced the opening of the “U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs” in Jerusalem, a reversal of Trump’s policy on Palestinian affairs being consolidated with the U.S. Embassy to Israel. The move prompted Florida Senator Rick Scott to state that the Biden administration was “appeasing those who harbor & sponsor terrorism.”
Under Trump, the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, which housed the “Palestinian Affairs Unit” and handled all Palestinian-related issues. Then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman oversaw the unit.
The newly named U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs removes all affiliations with the U.S. Embassy to Israel and will be located in Jerusalem. The Office will report directly to Washington, specifically to the State Department’s Near East Affairs Bureau, rather than Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
The changes were met with mixed opinions. Some see the change as another example of the Biden Administration bolstering U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, despite the ongoing tensions between the Palestinians and U.S. ally Israel. Last year, Biden restored humanitarian aid to Palestine totally over $200 million. Shortly after the restoration of aid, Hamas – the terrorist organization elected to govern the Palestinian people – carried out multiple rocket attacks aimed indiscriminately at Israeli cities.
While the State of Israel did not formally object to the changes, many see the establishment of an official office for Palestinian affairs as a reward to the Palestinians at a time when hostile attacks against the Jewish State have been frequent.
Additionally, some claim the Office will act as a de facto consulate or embassy, which undermines the 1995 U.S. Jerusalem Embassy Act. The 1995 Act formally recognized Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) responded in opposition to the news, calling out the Biden administration for “appeasing those who harbor & sponsor terrorism.”
Just like they do with Iran, this is the Biden admin appeasing those who harbor & sponsor terrorism & turning its back on our great ally, Israel. We must pass the Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021 to block the admin's efforts to subvert the law. https://t.co/wEo2paEZU0
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) June 10, 2022
These changes come just weeks before Biden’s first visit to the Middle East, where he is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials and the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.