US rolls back Trump rule on relations with Palestinians

The Biden administration is working to restore a line of communication to the Palestinians that former President Donald Trump has canceled.

The move, announced Thursday ahead of a possible visit by President Joe Biden to Israel and the occupied West Bank, means the Palestinians will deal directly with the State Department in Washington rather than go through the US ambassador to Israel first.

Reversing this change, the former Palestinian Affairs Unit changed its name Thursday to the United States Office of Palestinian Affairs.

In a statement, the newly renamed office said the move was aimed at “strengthening our diplomatic reporting and public diplomatic engagement.”

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“We felt it was important to reintroduce separate reporting lines to Washington on Israeli and Palestinian issues, by our teams on the ground focused on these issues,” she said, adding that she is reinstating a system that has been in place for decades. before Trump cancelled.

The decision falls short of the Palestinian demand that the United States reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which for years served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians.

There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinians or the Israelis.

The Trump administration closed the consulate, in one of a series of controversial moves in favor of Israel on the Palestinians.

Under Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pledged to reopen it, a move Israel said would challenge its sovereignty over the city.

He believed the reopening could help repair US relations with the Palestinians, which have been torn apart under Trump. The United States has so far failed to reopen the consulate, apparently fearing to undermine relations with Israel or destabilize its fragile coalition government.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said there is no room in Jerusalem for another US mission.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it considers the consulate reopening as part of the international community’s commitments to end the decades-old Israeli occupation of the lands the Palestinians seek to establish their future state.

Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel who is now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, called Thursday’s move “an interim step by the Biden administration toward re-establishing a consulate in Jerusalem.”

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