On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US will reinstate its consulate in Jerusalem, which had been closed under the Trump administration.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, Blinken is in the region to uphold a cease-fire agreement reached last week, which ended an 11-day conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza. Blinken is confronted with the same obstacles that have stymied a broader peace process in the region for more than a decade, such as Palestinian divisions and deeply rooted tensions surrounding Jerusalem and its holy sites.
"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," Blinken said.
Blinken did not specify when the consulate would reopen. He made the announcement following a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas is the president of the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank but was driven out of Gaza when Hamas took power there in 2007. The Palestinian Authority is internationally recognized as the true ruler of the region.
According to CBN News, for years, the consulate functioned as a separate office in charge of diplomatic relations with the Palestinians. When former President Donald Trump relocated the embassy to Jerusalem, he downgraded its operations and delegated authority to his ambassador to Israel. The move angered the Palestinian Authority, which considers the eastern part of Jerusalem to be the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Blinken told reporters, "As I told both Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and President Abbas, the United States will be moving forward with the process to reopen our consulate in Jerusalem. That's an important way for our country to engage with and provide support for the Palestinian people."
Blinken also pushed a message to rebuild Gaza, which had been devastated by Israel's bombing campaign. However, many of the damaged buildings were deserted as a result of Israel's policy of warning residents to leave buildings that are about to be bombed in order to reduce civilian casualties. But Hamas also continued its practice of embedding its military infrastructure within civilian areas, as it has in the past. The United States, according to Blinken, has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild Gaza. "The United States will work to rally international support around that effort while also making our own significant contributions, including some that I will announce later today. We'll work with our partners, closely with all to ensure that Hamas does not benefit," Blinken said.
Photo courtesy: Rob Bye/Unsplash
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.