Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday announced another $112 million in relief for Palestinians and other relief projects in Gaza and said the U.S. will reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, a move aimed at enhancing diplomatic relations with the Palestinians after they deteriorated under former President Trump.
The U.S. will commit an additional $112 million helping Palestinians and for other relief projects in Gaza, including $75 million in development and economic aid, $5.5 million in disaster relief in Gaza, and $32 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees.
Blinken said that the U.S. is in the process of providing a total of $360 million to support the Palestinian people. The secretary of state has promised that no aid will go to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has long been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.
“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,” Blinken said at a news conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night local time.
Blinken emphasized, however, “the United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks.”
Trump had placed diplomatic relations with the Palestinians under the purview of the U.S. ambassador to Israel when he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The move enraged Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem and view it as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Blinken also reiterated that the U.S. will try to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, despite Netanyahu’s opposition. Earlier on Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s secretary of state met with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.
“Across the meetings I’ve had so far, I’ve heard a shared recognition from all sides that steps need to be taken, work needs to be done, to address the underlying conditions that help fuel this latest conflict,” Blinken said.
More than 250 people have been killed over 11 days of conflict between Gaza and Israel that began on May 10 and has been suspended since Friday, when Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.
The conflict began when Hamas fired rockets into Israel following a clash between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israel responded with air strikes against Hamas in Gaza. Both sides have claimed victory in the conflict.
“If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong,” Netanyahu said, promising a “new level of force” in response to further attacks by the terrorist group.