Blinken bemoans deaths of ‘innocent Palestinian civilians,’ outlines steps to strengthen US-PA relations

The U.S. secretary’s three-day trip to the region demonstrated the Biden administration’s total reversal of Trump’s policy of conditioning aid to the Palestinians on renouncing terror.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

In Ramallah Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the Biden Administration’s goal to rebuild its relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

The American secretary began his remarks with an expression of “condolences and sorrow for the innocent Palestinian civilians who’ve lost their lives in escalating violence over the last year.

“Palestinians and Israelis alike are experiencing growing insecurity, growing fear in their homes, in their communities, in their places of worship,” he said just four days after a deadly Palestinian terror attack outside a Jerusalem synagogue after Sabbath eve prayers.

“It’s also important to continue to strive not only for reducing violence but ensuring that ultimately Israelis and Palestinians alike enjoy the same rights, the same opportunities,” he continued.

“What we’re seeing now from Palestinians is a shrinking horizon of hope, not an expanding one; and that, too, we believe needs to change.”

Blinken then said he “appreciates” Abbas’s “consistent and resolute stance against terrorism,” although the PA leader refused to condemn the Jerusalem attack that claimed the lives of seven Israeli and wounded three others. Over the years, he has also insisted on maintaining the PA’s policy of rewarding terrorists and their families with funding and has praised the murderers of innocent civilians.

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The secretary listed ways in which the current U.S. administration is “working to strengthen our own relationship with the Palestinian people and to help to improve their lives” in what is clearly a reversal of the previous administration’s policy of conditioning aid to the Palestinians on renouncing terror.

“We’re doing it in tangible ways, including our support to UNRWA – about $890 million for everything from food to vaccines to support for refugees, education, et cetera,” Blinken said.

“And today I can announce that we’re going to be providing an additional $50 million to UNRWA…

“The president also named Hady Amr, who is with us today, as our first representative for Palestinian affairs.  And at the same time, we’ll continue to work to reopen our consulate in Jerusalem…

“All of these steps,” Blinken explained, “are part of the longer-term ambition to re-establish, but then not just re-establish, rebuild our relationship, as I said, with the Palestinian people and with the Palestinian Authority. And this will allow us to more effectively work toward the goal of Palestinians and Israelis enjoying equal measures of democracy, of opportunity, of dignity in their lives.

“We believe that that can be achieved by a realization of two states,” he reiterated. “President Biden remains committed to that goal.

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“Meanwhile, we oppose any action by either side that makes that goal more difficult to achieve, more distant.  And we’ve been clear that this includes things like settlement expansion, the legalization of outposts, demolitions and evictions, disruptions to the historic status quo of the holy sites, and of course incitement and acquiescence to violence.  We look to both sides to unequivocally condemn any acts of violence regardless of the victim or the perpetrator…

“In addition, we talked about the importance of the Palestinian Authority itself continuing to improve its governance and accountability, strengthening the institutions of the PA. That, too, will improve the lives of the Palestinian people and also lay the groundwork for a democratic Palestinian state.”

Abbas, on his part, blamed Israel entirely for the instability and violence in his remarks to America’s top diplomat.

“We affirm that the Israeli government is responsible for what’s happening these days, because of its practices that undermine the two-state solution and violate the signed agreements, and because of the lack of international efforts to dismantle the occupation and the settlement regimes, and the failure to recognize the Palestinian state and its full membership in the United Nations,” he said.

The PA leader claimed that the Palestinians have always “shown commitment to renouncing violence and terrorism and honoring the agreements” with Israel.

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“We are now ready to work with the American administration and the international community to restore political dialogue in order to end the Israeli occupation of the land of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Our people won’t accept the continuation of the occupation forever,” he stated.