US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone on Saturday night with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since the former took office in January, both said in statements.
According to Abbas’s office, the two presidents discussed efforts to reach a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“Abbas told Biden that he has made extensive contacts in order to reach a truce in Gaza,” the Palestinian Authority presidency said.
Abbas also called on Biden to intervene so as to stop “the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian Authority president had long waited for a phone call with his American counterpart. Biden also spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday night, for the second time this week.
Biden during the call “expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve,” according to the White House readout, which said the president highlighted his decision earlier this year to restore aid to the Palestinians that was cut by former president Donald Trump.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hady Amr arrived in Israel over the weekend on a prescheduled visit, but will also assist in ceasefire efforts between Israel and Hamas.
“President Biden updated President Abbas on US diplomatic engagement on the ongoing conflict and stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel,” thee White House said.
According to the Palestinian Authority, Biden also emphasized Washington’s opposition to the eviction of several Palestinian families from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The families are set to be evicted under a 1970 law that, for all intents and purposes, only allows Jews to reclaim property they lost in East Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence. No such law exists for Palestinians.
The evictions became an international symbol. The families were set to attend a potentially definitive hearing last Sunday on their case, but the Supreme Court delayed it a month.
“Biden also affirmed the US administration’s opposition to unilateral moves, including settlements, and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, stressing the need to preserve the status quo at al-Aqsa Mosque,” Abbas’s office said.
The White House did not mention the East Jerusalem neighborhood in its readout. Both Biden and Abbas mentioned their support for a two-state solution.