Blinken to ask Congress for m. in Palestinian aid
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Blinken to ask Congress for $75m. in Palestinian aid

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 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that he will ask Congress for $75 million in 2021 to assist the Palestinians.

Blinken, who was speaking to reporters after meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, announced that the US will reopen its consulate in Jerusalem.

The consulate, which had dealt directly with the Palestinians, was merged into the US Embassy by the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

“As I told both Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and President Abbas, the United States will go forward with the reopening of its consulate in Jerusalem,” Blinken said. “This is an important way for our country to engage with and provide support for the Palestinian people.

The US will provide $5.5 in emergency disaster relief for the Gaza Strip and $32 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“This new assistance comes on top of significant support that the United States has recently committed and resumed to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinians and different agencies and groups,” Blinken said. ‘In total, we are in the process of providing more than $360 million in urgent support for the Palestinians. We will work with our partners to ensure that Hamas does not benefit the reconstruction efforts [in the Gaza Strip].”

The meeting was the first of its kind since the PA boycotted the Trump administration in 2017 in protest of the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Referring to the last round of fighting between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist groups, Blinken said: “I say this as a father; no child, whether Israeli, Palestinian or American, is a statistic. We know the human consequences when violence takes the upper hand, and we are determined that that not be the case.”

Blinken said that the US will “continue to firmly oppose any unilateral or provocative actions that risk sparking more violence and that undermine prospects for a just and durable resolution of the conflict, which eventually requires two states, whether that is settlement activities, home demolitions, annexation of territory, incitement of violence, and compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.”

The US, Blinken added, remains “committed to the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). Palestinians and Muslims must be able to pray in peace.”

Abbas thanked the US administration for its efforts to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and its decision to resume financial aid to the Palestinians and UNRWA.

“We reject violence and terrorism in any form and we only want peaceful solutions between us and Israel,” Abbas said during the meeting. “We support a civil peaceful popular struggle, but we are against violence and terrorism in any form.”

Abbas said that he informed Blinken that the PA government was ready to work directly on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the last 11-day fighting between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist groups. Abbas also affirmed his readiness to work toward establishing a national unity government.

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