Jordan welcomes US move to reopen consulate in Jerusalem

“We see the ceasefire not as an end, but as a beginning of something to build on,” said Blinken
Thursday 27/05/2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at Bayt Al-Urdon in the Jordanian capital Amman on May 26, 2021. AFP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at Bayt Al-Urdon in the Jordanian capital Amman on May 26, 2021. (AFP)

AMMAN--Jordan’s King Abdullah told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday he welcomed the administration’s move to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem, state-owned media said.

Blinken however said a bit of time would be needed to carry out the move, which he announced on Tuesday during his maiden Middle East trip to consolidate a ceasefire that ended the worst fighting in years between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The Jerusalem consulate had served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians until former President Donald Trump shuttered it in 2019.

Blinken was also quoted as saying that the Jordanian monarch, whose Hashemite dynasty has custodianship of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, had played an instrumental role in brokering the deal to end fighting.

He further said that aid had started to arrive in the Gaza Strip as part of a drive to help reconstruction in devastated areas of the enclave, ruled by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Blinken headed home from Jordan Thursday after a whistlestop Middle East tour on which he called for regional cooperation to consolidate a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants.

Blinken met both Israeli and Palestinian leaders during two days of talks, throwing Washington’s support behind the Egyptian-brokered truce that ended 11 days of heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza and rocket fire from the impoverished coastal enclave into Israel.

“Securing the ceasefire was important, particularly because of the devastating toll violence took on families on both sides,” Blinken told reporters after Wednesday talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman.

“We see the ceasefire not as an end, but as a beginning of something to build on.”

Following talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Blinken vowed to rebuild US relations with the Palestinians by reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, as well as give millions in aid for the war-battered Gaza Strip.

The announcements signalled a break with US policy under former president Donald Trump, who had shuttered the diplomatic mission for Palestinians in 2019 and slashed aid to the Palestinian Authority.

After meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken reiterated support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks by Gaza’s Hamas rulers, adding that they must not benefit from reconstruction aid.

Blinken also met Wednesday Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, whom he praised for helping bring an end to the intense violence “relatively quickly”.

Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children and wounded more than 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict from May 10, the health ministry in Gaza says.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier, one Indian national and two Thai workers, medics say. Some 357 people in Israel were wounded.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session focused on Israel Thursday to consider launching a broad, international investigation into abuses during the violence.