On Tuesday, Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, announced that the Biden government would reopen its Jerusalem Consulate General – restoring ties with Palestinians that former President Donald Trump downgraded during his era – and seek around $75 million from Congress to provide economic and development aid to Palestinians.
Biden said after his conversation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas that the U.S. would also give $5.5 million in direct disaster assistance for Gaza and around $32 million to UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Embassy long served as an independent office in charge of ambassadorial relations with the Palestinians.
NEW: Sec. of State Blinken says Biden admin will request $75 million from Congress to provide assistance to Palestinians in 2021.
“This relief is urgent…We will work with partners to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from these reconstruction efforts.” https://t.co/bGgrfqQgd4 pic.twitter.com/6zOjWnwtqi
— ABC News (@ABC) May 25, 2021
However, Trump placed diplomatic relations under the authority of his ambassador to Israel when he moved the consulate to Jerusalem. His move infuriated the Palestinian Muslims, who view East Jerusalem as Israeli-occupied territory and the capital of their future state. Furthermore, the secretary of state didn’t give an exact date for reopening the consulate.
Antony Blinken Assured President Mahmood Abbas for American Support and Aid
He said that he told President Abbas that he is here to underscore the commitment of the U.S. to upgrading the relationship with Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, a relationship built on mutual understanding and respect and also a shared conviction that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve equal measures of freedom opportunity, security, and dignity.
Blinken is in the country to help support the truce last week, an overwhelming war eleven-day war between Hamas and Israel that killed over two hundred and fifty people, mostly Palestinians, and caused extensive destruction in the impoverished coastal territory. The secretary of the state promised to demonstrate international support to aid Gaza after the war while keeping any assistance out of the hands of Hamas.
The cease-fire that came into effect Friday has held so far, but it didn’t address any of the primary issues in the Palestinian-Israeli fight, something the state secretary acknowledged after meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. Blinken said the United States knows that to prevent another violence, they have to use the space created to combat underlying issues and challenges in the region. It starts with addressing the serious humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild.
Israel and U.S. Considers Hamas as a Terrorist Organization
The state secretary will not meet Hamas, which denies Israel’s rights to exist and which the United States and Israel consider a terrorist organization. He addressed the bigger clash by saying the U.S. believes that Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights to live securely and safely, enjoy equal measures of freedom, democracy, and opportunity, and treated with dignity and respect.
However, the top American envoy faces the same obstacles that stifled an extensive peace process for over a decade, including Palestinian divisions, aggressive Israeli leadership, and a deeply rooted tension atmosphere surrounding Jerusalem and its holy sites. Moreover, the Biden government initially hoped to avoid being drawn into the stubborn clash and focus on other foreign policy priorities before the fight started.
Netanyahu Struggle for his Political Existence
Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, is struggling for his political existence after a 4th indecisive election in two years. The PM faces growing criticism from Israelis who say he ended the violence without force stopping rocket attacks or dealing a heavier upset Hamas. He hardly mentioned the Palestinian people in his comments, in which he warned of an influential response if Hamas breaks the truce.
Israeli Prime Minister spoke of developing economic growth in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but said there would be no peace until Palestine recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Furthermore, the Palestinians long opposed that language, saying it weakens the rights of Israel’s own Palestinian minority. The truce remains weak since tensions are still escalated in Jerusalem and the destiny of Palestinian people by Jewish settlers.
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