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Biden meets PA president as Palestinians protest his visit to occupied lands

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) receives visiting US President Joe Biden at the Presidential Palace in the city of Bethlehem, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on July 15, 2022. (Photo by the Palestinian Wafa news agency)

US President Joe Biden has met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, as hundreds of people staged a demonstration to express their outright rejection of his visit to the occupied territories on his first Middle East tour as the US president.

The talks between the two sides are expected to focus on economic measures, without striking any major diplomatic breakthrough.

Biden’s arrival in Bethlehem comes ahead of a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet and hold talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-profile officials.

Earlier, the US president visited the Augusta Victoria Hospital in the Israeli-occupied East al-Quds, where he announced a multi-million aid package for medical institutions in the area.

“Today I’m pleased to announce the United States is committing an additional $100 million to support these hospitals, your staffs that work for the Palestinian people,” he said.

Biden will also announce measures to upgrade telecoms networks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to high speed 4G standards by the end of 2023, and other measures to ease travel between the West Bank and neighboring Jordan.

In addition, there will be a separate $201 million funding package provided through the UN relief agency UNRWA to help Palestinian refugees.

Former US president Donald Trump ended nearly all aid to Palestinians three years ago and fully sided with Israel’s positions in the decades-long dispute over a so-called two-state solution.

Palestinians have met Biden’s visit with skepticism, saying their concerns for self-determination and settlement building were ignored in favor of Israel’s regional stability with its Arab neighbors. 

Earlier this week, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement said Joe Biden’s Middle East visit was aimed at promoting the normalization project and getting Saudi leaders to pump new crude supplies into the world oil market, adding that the US president had nothing to offer to the Palestinian people.

“Biden primarily came to persuade the Persian Gulf countries to produce and export more oil and gas,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech on the occasion of the outbreak of the 2006 war between Hezbollah and the Israeli regime.

Biden, Nasrallah said, is also in the region to ensure that the United States stands alongside Israel and its project of normalization with the Persian Gulf countries. “He has nothing to offer the Palestinian people.”

Palestinians reject Biden’s visit, stage protest rally

Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian activists demonstrated outside the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East al-Quds, as Biden was visiting the medical facility.

The activists hoisted Palestinian flags and black banners, reminding the 79-year-old Palestinian president that the lives of the Palestinian people matter.

Palestinians hold a rally outside the Augusta Victoria Hospital in the Israeli-occupied East al-Quds, as US President Joe Biden is visiting the area. (Photo by the Arabic-language Palestine Today news agency)

Palestinian sources, who asked not to be named, said a large number of Israeli forces were deployed outside the hospital.

Israeli troops later engaged in clashes with Palestinian protesters as they tried to disperse the crowd.

The demonstrators also demanded justice for slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on May 11 during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Last month, the United Nations human rights office said evidence suggested Israeli military fire had killed Abu Akleh while she stood with other reporters and was identifiable as a journalist.

Islamic Jihad chief: Biden’s visit seeks to secure US interests, Israel's security

Separately, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement said Biden's visit to the region is meant to secure the interests of the United States as well as the security of the occupying Tel Aviv regime.

“We, as a Palestinian people and resistance front, must draw lessons and stop cherishing dreams about such a political development,” Ziyad al-Nakhalah said in an exclusive interview with the Arabic-language Palestine Today news agency.

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