US, Palestinian officials restart economic dialogue after 5 years

The US-Palestinian Economic Dialogue (USPED) met again for the first time in over five years, the State Department said on Tuesday.

“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,” the State Department said in a statement.

The delegations included a number of senior diplomatic and trade officials, including US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert. Lempert told the Palestinian officials that President Joe Biden’s government wanted “freedom, security and prosperity” for the Palestinian Territories.

“Growing the Palestinian economy will also 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,” Lempert said.

What is the state of US-Palestinian relations?

The USPED last convened in May 2016, before former President Donald Trump took office. Trump took a hardline pro-Israeli government stance, including controversially moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Before the USPED’s 2016 gathering, it had not met since 2004.

The Biden administration has promised to re-open the US consulate to the Palestinian Territories, though it has not provided a timeline for this project, and has restored aid that was slashed under Trump.

Despite these moves, relations between the two remain tense. Although the US maintains a Palestinian affairs office within its embassy in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority has put in place a policy of public non-cooperation with Washington in any form.