INTERVIEW – Washington committed to ‘lifting up Palestinian lives’: New US envoy

Suzy Elgeneidy , Friday 2 Dec 2022

Hady Amr, the recently appointed US Department of State’s special representative for Palestinian affairs bureau of near eastern affairs, spoke in a special briefing via telephone about the US’s commitment to “lifting up Palestinian lives” by helping them to achieve freedom, dignity and justice.

Hady Amr
Hady Amr, US Department of State’s special representative for Palestinian affairs bureau.


Answering a question from Ahram Online, Hady Amr offered his assurances that the United States is still committed to two-state solution after the recent Israeli elections, despite Palestinian concerns that they do not have any partnership from the Israeli side.

"The president of the United States and the secretary of state still believe that the two-state solution is the best way forward for Israelis and Palestinians to realise their aspirations. They also believe that Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, justice and dignity. And so what we are focused on is – in the immediate term – is lifting up and improving Palestinian lives while we also look for ways to restore a political horizon and return to a two-state solution."

Amr emphasised that "President Biden remains fully committed to a two-state solution, which he made clear in Jerusalem in May, and as he stated then, the administration supports two states along the 1967 lines where mutually agreed swaps remain the best way to achieve equal measures of security, prosperity, freedom, democracy and justice for Palestinians as well as Israelis."

He added "President Biden further stated that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that is independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous, in addition to deserving to live – along with Israelis – safely and securely while enjoying equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.”

“Really, I cannot stress that line enough.  Equal measures of freedom, equal measures of dignity, equal measures of justice are important in their own right and as a means to advancing a negotiated two-state solution.”

He also said "it is a real honour to serve as the US government’s first representative to the Palestinian people and leadership. The creation of this role is unprecedented and elevates Palestinian issues and our engagement with them. This move is completely consistent with the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthen US engagement with the Palestinian people and leadership that we have launched into since day one, and even before taking office."

Hady Amr answered a question about the current US administration’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority, especially given Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s earlier statement to the Russian president that the Palestinians do not trust the United States.

"The Palestinian leadership very, very clearly knows our views on it. I am focused on the future, however, and building the US-Palestinian bilateral relationship, lifting up Palestinian lives to make them more equal with Israeli lives. I will just note that the US-Palestinian relationship goes back to the 1800s when we opened our first diplomatic mission in Jerusalem. So we are focused on the future and lifting up the lives of ordinary Palestinians. "

Amr answered a question about what is the US doing to prevent escalation in the West Bank, which some expect to intensify more after the formation of the Israeli government, by saying " we are closely tracking every reported incident every day, and we are deeply aware of the tragic loss of life that we are seeing in the territories. In terms of the new Israeli government, I am not going to speculate on its composition and how it is going to engage. And look, it is really – while we’re going to stay engaged – I really want to stress in the first instance, it is up to the parties on the ground to take the steps needed to de-escalate the situation. And look, again, we are going to stay focused on our goal of working towards and advancing towards equal measures of security, freedom, and justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike, and we will be engaging with the parties in that – with that as our kind of basis.”

Answering a question about how is the US currently supporting Palestinians economically, Amr said "first and foremost, the United States is now the world’s largest donor to UNRWA.  We hav given about $680 million to UNRWA over the last 18 months and we are going to stay committed to supporting that organisation and their support to the neediest Palestinians.”

“Second of all, when the Biden administration took office in early 2021, we quickly restarted our economic assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. The vast majority of this assistance goes to civil society, the private sector, and NGOs, where we are seeking to lift up and enrich the lives of ordinary Palestinians.  We continued with that assistance this past year, and next year we are planning – in cooperation with congress and consistent with US law – to expand that assistance to almost $220 million.”

"I just got back a few weeks ago from a trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah where, in Ramallah, we held the first in-person US-Palestinian Economic Dialogue in six years, where we met with leadership in the Palestinian private sector and the Palestinian Authority and came up with a list of numerous ways that we plan to work together over the course of the coming year to bolster the U.S.-Palestinian economic relationship and help grow the Palestinian economy," he added.

Answering a question about whether the US supports holding Palestinian elections, Amr said " the United States – the Biden administration – has been clear all along that elections are a decision for the Palestinian people and leadership to decide. It is their decision to have elections. We were very pleased to see the local elections that were held earlier this year. But again, democratic principles require that elections are decisions for the Palestinian people to decide.”

Answering a question about the Abraham Accords, he said that the accords “have certainly created an environment where Arab governments are more closely engaging with the government of Israel. But they are certainly – and we have been very clear on this – not a substitute for the quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace and to lift up Palestinian lives.”

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