For the first time since taking office, US President Joe Biden on Saturday held a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, amid violent battles between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Biden expressed concern about the ongoing escalation, but stressed the need for Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel. </p><div> <p>call <a target="_blank" href="https://www.france24.com/ar/الشرق-الأوسط/20210515-النزاع-الإسرائيلي-الفلسطيني-بايدن-يشدد-على-الأهمية-البالغة-لوسائل-الإعلام-ونتانياهو-يؤكد-تجنب-الإضرار-بالمدنيين" rel="noopener"><strong>US President Joe Biden</strong></a> Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for the first time since Biden came to power, in the midst of violent battles between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Biden sent an envoy to try to quell the violence that has claimed dozens of lives in Gaza and at least 10 in Israel, but US, regional and international efforts have yet to show any signs of progress.
In a statement on the call, the White House said Biden “stressed the need for Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel” and that the two leaders “expressed their common concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amid the ongoing violence.”
Biden also affirmed “the US commitment to strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership,” and highlighted his administration’s recent decision to return aid to the West Bank and the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. The aid was cut off during the era of former President Donald Trump.
The summary of the call, published by the official Palestinian News Agency, stated that Biden said that the United States opposes the expulsion of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, although the White House account of the call did not mention the issue.
The longstanding issue helped spark tension in the holy city and sparked fighting between Israel and Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority, headed by Abbas, enjoys limited autonomy in the occupied West Bank, which is part of the territories that Israel occupied, along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, in the 1967 Middle East war.
But the Palestinian Authority wields limited influence over Gaza and Hamas, which seized control of the territory in 2007 after a bloody conflict with Abbas’s Fatah movement.
The United States considers Hamas a terrorist organization and does not hold talks with the terror group.
Some analysts say that Hamas appears to view the escalation with Israel as an opportunity to marginalize Abbas and present itself as a protector of the Palestinians in Jerusalem, who seek to make its eastern part the capital of their future state.
France 24 / Reuters