The US announce the reopening of the consulate in Eastern Jerusalem
Antony Blinken yesterday announced that the US “will reopen the consulate in East Jerusalem”, the part of the city that the Palestinians consider their capital. In addition, the secretary of state promised Abu Mazen, the president of the Palestinian Authority, “aid for 75 million dollars and 1.5 million vaccine doses”. Washington’s chief of diplomacy arrived in Israel yesterday “to cement the truce” after 11 days of fighting in Gaza. The first meeting, of course, with Benjamin Netanyahu, in West Jerusalem, where Donald Trump had the US embassy transferred. A decision confirmed by the Biden administration.
The impact with the Israeli premier was rough. Netanyahu formally “thanked” the United States, “our closest ally”, for supporting “Israel’s right to self-defence.” But immediately afterward he warned: “We will react with great power if Hamas does not respect the truce”. Then he extended the analysis to Iran: “I hope America does not return to the old nuclear deal. We think that this agreement could allow Tehran to build an atomic arsenal without international consensus. Whatever happens, Israel reserves the right to defend itself against a regime committed to our destruction.” In essence, Netanyahu warns the United States: if necessary, we will be ready for a pre-emptive strike to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities.
Blinken, therefore, found himself faced with a difficult interlocutor, who seems more committed to keeping the tension high in the entire Middle East than to working to reach a political compromise. It is no coincidence that speaking alongside Netanyahu, the secretary of state avoided evoking the formula of the two states (sovereign Israel and Palestine), quoted, instead, “as the only possible solution” in the solitary press conference. However, Blinken reassured the Israeli government: “We will ensure that aid for Gaza does not end up strengthening Hamas’ position.” Not an easy goal, given that the Islamic formation maintains full political and social control in the Strip. The US government has classified Hamas as a terrorist organization since 1997: who will manage the flow of materials then?
Blinken’s attempt is clear: to try to revive the discredited Palestinian Authority, cut off from Gaza, and forgotten by Trump’s foreign policy. The secretary of state then saw Abu Mazen in Ramallah, in the West Bank and explained what the concrete measures will be: a package of financial aid worth 75 million dollars, subject, however, to the approval of the Congress; 5 million dollars for Gaza alone, in addition to the 32 million paid to UNWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees; 1.5 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines, to be put together with the contribution of the entire international community. Finally, the most symbolic announcement: the reopening of the US consulate in East Jerusalem, which had been closed by Trump. All this in a more balanced political framework, described to journalists in these terms: “We are opposed to actions that risk triggering violence or jeopardizing the two-state solution, such as new settlements, demolitions, evictions, incitement to violence, payment of terrorists.”Blinken continues on Wednesday to Cairo, where he will see Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Thursday last stop in Jordan, an interview with King Abdullah II.