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Blinken says US to provide $75 million in assistance to Palestinians

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The Biden administration will ask the US Congress for $75 million development and economic assistance for Palestinians, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday, and added that Washington will be moving forward with the process to reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem.

Speaking after his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Blinken said the United States would also provide $5.5 million in immediate disaster assistance for Gaza and $32 million to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

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Blinken said re-opening the US Consulate General in Jerusalem would be “an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people.”

The Trump administration merged the consulate with the US Embassy in Israel in 2019, two years after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Those moves broke with long-standing US policy and infuriated Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as capital of future state.

Israel deems all of Jerusalem, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move not recognized internationally, as its undivided capital.

Biden has no plans to reverse the embassy relocation but has moved in the early months of his term to repair relations with Palestinians. In April, Biden restored hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid cut by Trump.

Speaking alongside Blinken, Abbas thanked the US “for its commitment to the two-state solution (and maintaining) the status quo on the Haram al-Sharif,” a Jerusalem compound holy to Muslims and Jews that contains Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.

Abbas also thanked Blinken for what he called American support “for the preservation of (Palestinian) residents of ... Sheikh Jarrah,” an East Jerusalem neighborhood where the potential evictions of Palestinian families helped spark the Israel-Gaza fighting.

Read more: Analysis: Biden’s quiet diplomacy may work, but Middle East will ‘follow you home’