US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday and then announced the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinian people better.
The consulate had been a separate facility where the US dealt with the Palestinians directly. When US President Donald Trump opened the US Embassy in Jerusalem, his administration ordered the closure of the separate consulate and consolidated the interests into the embassy.
After announcing the reopening, Blinken said, “This is an important way for our country to engage with and provide support for the Palestinian people.”
But Blinken’s consulate news, in addition to the announcement of millions in aid from the US and other nations for rebuilding in Gaza, was not met with the enthusiasm he may have hoped for.
On his ride into Ramallah, in the West Bank (Biblical Judea and Samaria), Blinken was greeted by a group of angry protestors sponsored by the National and Islamic Forces, a coalition of various Palestinian groups.
“We reject the imposition of the US to broker false negotiations between colonizers and the defunct and corrupt leadership in Ramallah,” a spokeswoman for the protestors said.
If you are confused as to why Blinken received such a cold reception when America came bearing good news and money, then let me remind you that at the heart of it all, it’s really about politics, power, and who controls the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Hamas controls Gaza, Hezbollah is in Lebanon, and Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, oversees the West Bank. The “defunct and corrupt leadership” the woman spoke of is Abbas and his government. The Palestinian people haven’t had an election for 15 years! They were about to have one, but Abbas called it off right before the war because he feared he would lose in the face of the growing popularity of Hamas.
Even though Abbas continues to call for an end to visits for Jews on the Temple Mount, and an ailing Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, vowed this week to join in the fight next time and attack Israel from the north, it is Hamas, despite taking a massive pounding from Israel, who is standing as the hero among the Palestinian people right now.
And while the rockets have stopped, the situation in Israel and the region remains tense. In addition to the power struggle over the Temple Mount, the dispute over land ownership rights in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem continues, and Israelis in mixed Arab and Jewish cities are searching for a way forward, trying to heal the divisions revealed during the recent riots and lynchings.