REVISES DECK, LEDE, ADDS STATEMENTS FROM PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT
By Esat Firat and Zehra Nur Duz
JERUSALEM (AA) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Washington will reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which had historically served as an office in charge of diplomatic relations with Palestine.
His comments came during a press conference following a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah as part of an official visit to occupied Palestine.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the recent efforts to consolidate the cease-fire across the entire occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem and Gaza, reconstruction of the devastated Gaza Strip after 11 days of Israeli airstrikes, and ways to achieve a political solution and to develop the US-Palestinian partnership, Palestine’s official news agency WAFA reported.
During the news conference, Blinken said the US will provide $5.5 million in emergency financial assistance to the Gaza Strip and $32 million in support to international aid organizations.
“We will continue to oppose any unilateral practice that leads to further violence between Israel and Palestinians,” he said.
Abbas, for his part, extended thanks to the US administration under President Joe Biden for the efforts to reach a cease-fire in Gaza, WAFA said.
Abbas underlined the importance of US intervention to pressure Israel to halt its ongoing attacks in occupied Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, which he said “undermine US efforts to solidify the cease-fire and de-escalate the situation.”
Regarding his decision to cancel the May 22 parliamentary elections in Palestine, Abbas said once Israel approves holding elections in Jerusalem, his government will immediately hold them without delay.
In Late April this year, he unilaterally postponed the first Palestinian national elections in 15 years over Israel’s blocking of elections in East Jerusalem.
The parliamentary polls were expected to be held on May 22 and presidential polls on July 31, while the Palestinian National Council elections would have taken place on Aug. 31.
Blinken arrived in Israel early Tuesday on the first stop of his first Middle East tour since taking office.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with Blinken on a host of regional issues, including the recent cease-fire deal in the Gaza Strip and Iran.
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Blinken met with senior Israeli officials including President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, according to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
Blinken will later meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and senior officials from the Palestinian Authority before heading to Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan.