US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this morning announced that America will reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, to restore ties with Palestine that collapsed during former President Donald Trump’s tenure.
Palestinian leaders decided to boycott the Trump administration’s peace efforts over its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in 2018, upending decades of US policy.
The Trump administration went on to shutter the US consulate in Jerusalem in 2019, saying it was no longer needed because the new US embassy had taken over its functions.
Blinken said it would be “an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people”.
However, he did not specify a date for its reopening. “We’re just beginning the process,” he said.
The announcement came after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.
He said: “As I told the president, I’m here to underscore the commitment of the United States to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship built on mutual respect and also a shared conviction that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity.”
He later announced tens of millions in aid to the Palestinians, including $5.5 million ($7.1 million) in emergency assistance for Gaza. “This relief is urgent. We have to respond to the profound needs of people at this moment,” Blinken said.
Abbas thanked the US “for its commitment to the two-state solution and maintaining the status quo on the Haram Al-Sharif [Al-Aqsa Mosque].”
Blinken is in the region to help shore up the ceasefire which came into effect last week, ending 11 days of Israeli aerial bombardment of Gaza which killed more than 270 Palestinians, including 67 children.