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USA reopen the Jerusalem consulate and improve Palestinian relations

Blinken did not give an exact date for the reopening of the consulate. He announced the move after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

“As I told the President, I am here to underline the United States’ commitment to rebuilding relations with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship based on mutual respect and a shared belief that Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve measures related to security, freedom, opportunity and dignity, ”he said.

Blinken is in the region to bolster the ceasefire that was passed last week and ended a devastating 11-day war between Israel and the militant Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip. The fighting killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused widespread destruction in the impoverished coastal area.

He promised to “gather international support” to help Gaza after the war. He later announced nearly $ 40 million in aid to the Palestinians, including $ 5.5 million in emergency aid to Gaza. This brings total US aid to the Palestinians under the Biden administration to over $ 360 million after the Trump administration cut almost all support for them.

Blinken has promised that any aid will not fall into the hands of Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and which Israel and the US regard as a terrorist organization.

The US is trying to strengthen Abbas, incapacitated by recent events, in his rivalry with Hamas and on the international stage. Abbas heads the internationally supported Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank, but whose armed forces were driven out of the Gaza Strip when Hamas took power there in 2007.

Abbas is seen by many Palestinians as completely legitimized. But he is still internationally regarded as a representative of the Palestinian people and an important partner in the long-defunct peace process.

The ceasefire that ended the Gaza War on Friday has stood so far, but it has not addressed any of the underlying issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something Blinken acknowledged after an earlier meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We know that we need to use the space created to prevent a return to violence in order to address a greater number of underlying problems and challenges. And that starts with addressing the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting the reconstruction, ”he said.

The top US diplomat faces the same obstacles that have hampered a broader peace process for more than a decade, including the Hawk Israeli leadership, Palestinian divisions, and deep-rooted tensions over Jerusalem and its holy places. The Biden government initially hoped to avoid getting caught up in the intractable conflict and instead focus on other foreign policy priorities before the violence broke out.

The war was sparked by weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The protests were directed against Israel’s surveillance of the area during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened displacement of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.

The ceasefire remains weak as tensions remain high in Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian families is not yet resolved.

The evictions were suspended shortly before fighting broke out in Gaza, but legal proceedings are expected to resume in the coming weeks. Police briefly clashed with protesters in Al-Aqsa on Friday, hours after the ceasefire entered into force.

Adding to the tension, an Israeli soldier and a civilian were stabbed and wounded in east Jerusalem on Monday before police shot the assailant in what they termed a terrorist attack.

Then, early Tuesday, according to the Wafa news agency, a Palestinian was shot dead by covert Israeli forces near the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. Images circulating online showed the man bloody and lying on the street. The Israeli army referred questions to the border police, who did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is fighting for his political life after a fourth inconclusive election in two years. He is increasingly criticized by Israelis who say he ended the offensive prematurely without violently stopping rocket attacks or dealing a more serious blow to Hamas.

In his remarks after the meeting with Blinken, Netanyahu hardly mentioned the Palestinians. He warned of a “very strong” reaction if Hamas breaks the ceasefire.

Netanyahu spoke of “building economic growth” in the occupied West Bank, but said there would be no peace until the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”. The Palestinians have long protested against this language, saying it undermines the rights of their own Palestinian minority in Israel.

Blinken will also visit neighboring Egypt and Jordan, which have acted as mediators in the conflict. Egypt managed to broker the ceasefire in Gaza after the Biden government urged Israel to suspend its offensive.

The government had been harshly criticized for responding to the deadly violence, including from democratic allies in Congress who were calling for a tougher stance on Israel. Biden repeatedly affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Gaza.

The government has defended its response by saying it had conducted intense but calm high-level diplomacy to support a ceasefire.

Blinken said it is not the time for an immediate resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but steps could be taken to repair the damage caused by Israeli air strikes that destroyed hundreds of homes and damaged Gaza’s infrastructure.

The narrow coastal area, home to more than 2 million Palestinians, has been subjected to a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas came to power. Israel says the blockade is necessary to stop Hamas from importing arms, while the Palestinians and human rights groups see it as a form of collective punishment.

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