US readies steps to boost ties with Palestinians after freezing consulate reopening


Staff member
US readies steps to boost ties with Palestinians after freezing consulate reopening
State Department’s point-man on the conflict to be elevated to position of special envoy to Palestinians; US embassy’s Palestinian unit to report directly to him, not ambassador
By Jacob Magid
29 May 2022

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has settled on a series of steps aimed at boosting its diplomatic ties to the Palestinians in lieu of reopening the US Consulate in Jerusalem — a move it reluctantly shelved amid Israeli opposition. According to two US and Palestinian officials who spoke to The Times of Israel, US President Joe Biden will elevate Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians. Amr will remain in Washington but will make regular trips to the region and work closely with the Palestinian Affairs Unit, which currently is a branch within the US Embassy to Israel and is housed in the old Jerusalem consulate building.

The unit’s diplomats used to serve independently from the embassy until former US president Donald Trump shuttered the de facto mission to the Palestinians in 2019. While the Trump administration cited efficiency reasons for the decision — given that it had moved the US embassy to Jerusalem a year earlier — the step was seen by the Palestinian Authority as a downgrade of its ties with the US, and Ramallah has largely refused to engage with the PAU. But in a move aimed at again setting apart the diplomats serving the Palestinians from those serving the Israelis, the PAU will officially begin reporting directly to Amr in Washington, rather than to the US ambassador in Israel, the US and Palestinian officials said.