Report: Joe Biden Admin to Boost Ties with Palestinians Instead of Reopening U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, left, gestures as he walks with Palestinian President Ma
AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill

The Biden administration will implement a series of measures aimed at boosting its relations with the Palestinians in lieu of reopening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Donald Trump shuttered the consulate, which served as a de facto embassy, in 2019, angering the Palestinians. The Biden administration subsequently promised to reopen it but walked back the promise amid Israeli opposition.

Citing two U.S. and Palestinian officials, the report said President Joe Biden will promote Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians. The Washington-based Amr will make regular trips to the region and work closely with the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU),  a U.S. Embassy branch housed in the old Jerusalem consulate building.

The PAU will begin to officially report directly to Amr, rather than to the U.S. ambassador in Israel, the officials told The Times of Israel. The hope is that the Palestinian government in Ramallah will restore ties with the PAU, which it has boycotted since Trump’s move.

The measures at restoring ties comes ahead of Biden’s trip to the region next month.

According to the report, the moves may not be enough to quell the despair felt by the Palestinians towards the Biden administration over its failure to deliver on its campaign promise of reopening the consulate.

It cited three Palestinian officials as saying that Ramallah may respond to the broken promise by refusing to reform its so-called pay-for-slay policy paying salaries to convicted terrorists and their families.

The report said:

In May 2021, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the administration would begin the process of reopening the Jerusalem consulate. But the US faced immediate pushback, first from then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then from his successor Naftali Bennett, who argued that a mission serving Palestinians operating from Israeli territory was an encroachment on the Jewish state’s sovereignty. Supporters of the move noted that it was simply a return to the decades-old status quo and that over roughly a dozen other countries have similar offices serving the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Though the US could have moved ahead with reopening the consulate, daring Israel to refuse accrediting a consul general from an ally that grants it $3.8 billion in defense aid, Biden has been intent on avoiding such public spats with Jerusalem. As a result, efforts have been stuck for over six months.

The report finished by outlining “Israeli authorities proposed that the US reopen the mission in Ramallah or Abu Dis in the West Bank, but these ideas have been rejected out of hand by the PA, which views East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.”



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