While the Palestinian leadership was slow in congratulating the declared winner of the US presidential elections, the press has been eager to acknowledge him.Â The largest-selling daily, Al-Quds, announced on Nov. 7,Â â€œBiden at the steps of the White House,â€ with a stock photo of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and former US Vice President Joe Biden.Â
A source in theÂ Palestinian presidencyÂ told Al-Monitor that the official hesitation was out of fear that an unstable electoral loserÂ could do further harm to Palestinians.
TheÂ silence was broken on Nov. 8 with aÂ two-paragraph reportÂ on the Wafa news site that Abbas has offered his congratulations to Biden. â€œPresident Abbas said he was looking forward to working with the president-elect and his administration to strengthen the Palestinian-American relations and to achieve freedom, independence, justiceÂ and dignity for our people, as well as to work for peace, stabilityÂ and security for all in our region and the world.â€
Ziad Abu Zayyad, a Jerusalem-based attorney and former Palestinian legislator, told Al-Monitor that he hopes for a resumption of Palestinian contacts with the elected US leadership. He said, â€œPalestinians need to resume contacts with the new administration and bring it to recognize the State of Palestine and call on the president-elect to stand by his promise to reopen the US Consulate in east Jerusalem and recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.â€Â
Abu Zayyad, who is also the publisher and co-editor of Palestine Israel Journal, wrote in his weekly Al Quds column on Nov. 9 that Biden’s victoryÂ gives the Palestinian leadership the opportunity to ease off. â€œThere is no doubt that the Biden victory will extend the life of the Palestinian AuthorityÂ for a short period, because it was on the verge of collapse if Trump had stayed in power.Â Hope for a solution that will end theÂ occupation and establishÂ aÂ Palestinian state is the only justification for the continuation of the [PA] in power,â€ he wrote.
While some highÂ hopes for Biden, Hamadeh Faraneh, a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), explained another reason for Palestinian elation. â€œJoy has spread in Palestine because of the loss of Trump, who had been a fierceÂ enemy of the Palestinian people, insulting Palestinians and attempting to deny their legitimate national rights,â€ he wrote in his columnÂ forÂ Ad Dustour Nov. 10.Â
Faraneh also wrote that the reelection of Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and a number of local state representatives of Palestinian origins was also a source of pride and expectations that the tide is turning in the United States.
Along with Palestinian official’s caution and the public’s elation, there have also been voices of concern. Jamal Dajani, former spokesman of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, was among those who cautioned against high expectations. Dajani said in late October that Palestinians must look inward and get their house in order. â€œI am not sure if Biden as president will be able to undo the damage done by Trump,â€ Dajani said while calling on the Palestinian leadership to â€œstop banking on the United States.â€
Many Palestinians are hoping that the Biden win can help produce a solution to the stalemate over the Palestinian taxes collected by Israel and not delivered in full to the Palestinians. Israeli and Palestinian media reports are talking about potential solutions to the problem, which would have been compounded byÂ Israeli annexation of 30% of the West Bank. Sources in the Palestinian government were quoted in theÂ Israeli media as saying that it is likely that a solution will be found soonÂ that will lead to the delivery of some threeÂ billion shekels (nearly $900 million) to the Palestinian coffers. Returning to security coordination may be palatable to the PalestiniansÂ now that the danger of annexation appears to have recededÂ with Trump soon to be out of power.
There appears to be cautious optimism that under a Biden administration,Â Washington will return to internationally accepted norms. In addition to the possibility of opening aÂ PalestinianÂ diplomatic missionÂ in Washington and a US mission in east Jerusalem, Palestinians are hoping that Biden will abide by the anti-settlement UN Security Council Resolution 2334 approved in the last days of the BarackÂ Obama administration.