American top diplomat came to the seat of Palestine with promises of additional aid, reopen a consulate in Jerusalem, and a pledge to rebuild ties that had been strained by the previous administration in favor of Israel.
The initiatives by Secretary of State Antony Blinken towards Palestine represented an endeavour to revive America’s former role as a more neutral mediator in the Middle East’s most protracted conflict.
It amounted to a sharp turnabout from the policies of former President Donald Trump, who had made no secret of siding with Israel by closing a political channel with the Palestinian Authority and cutting off humanitarian assistance to millions of Palestinians.
This action also carries a lot of risks. The Biden administration says it will help finance an enormous reconstruction effort in the Gaza strip, which is under the control of Hamas, a militant group considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Israel, and many other countries.
Rebuilding ties with Palestinians also risks angering Israel, the most reliable US ally in the Middle East, whose leaders are already worried about the Biden administration’s attempts to rejoin a nuclear agreement with Iran. Israel has long opposed and worked to undermine a deal.
“The aspirations of the Palestinian people are like those of people everywhere. The United States is committed to working with the Palestinian people to realise these aspirations,” Blinken said after meeting the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, at his presidential office in the occupied West Bank. He also said that additional $112 million aid will be provided for development and funding to the West Bank and Gaza.
Only a few hours before meeting with Abbas, Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who also thanked the Biden administration for supporting the fight against Hamas.