US Consulate to open in Jerusalem ‘soon’?


The United States confirmed that it is moving forward with reopening its consulate in Jerusalem, without specifying a date.

“I don’t have a timetable to offer you at this time, but it is something that we are working on, as we have discussed, with our Israeli and Palestinian partners, both when we were in Israel the other week and in continued discussion since,” State Department spokesman Ned Price announced in a press briefing.

Price described the vaccine agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority as a “bilateral arrangement.”

“What we would say is that we encourage them – both parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians – to do whatever they can to maximize vaccinations of Israelis and Palestinians.”

Price indicated that this matter is within US national interests, knowing that as long as COVID-19 is uncontrolled anywhere, it is a threat to people everywhere, “including Americans at home, but also knowing that it’s just simply the right thing to do.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is launching a $164 million humanitarian and early recovery appeal following the hostilities in the Gaza Strip last month.

UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that this updated appeal incorporates the immediate emergency response actions implemented by UNRWA in Gaza and the West Bank between May10 and 31, as well as early recovery needs of Palestine refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until December 31.

It supersedes the initial $38m Flash Appeal that was issued on May 19.

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The appeal outlines the need for emergency shelter repairs, humanitarian assistance to displaced families, and emergency repairs and maintenance of UNRWA installations.

Also, funds will be required to temporarily subsidize rental payments for those Palestine refugee families whose shelters have been completely destroyed or damaged in the form of Transitional Shelter Cash Assistance.

UNRWA reported that airstrikes have caused substantial damage to physical infrastructure, including homes and UNRWA installations and water and sanitation networks in refugee camps.

UNRWA installations that served as designated emergency shelters also suffered damage with up to 71,000 people seeking shelter at the height of the conflict.

An estimated 7,500 Palestinian refugees remain displaced, of whom 7,150 individuals are sheltering with relatives and friends, and approximately 350 individuals remain in two UNRWA schools in Jabalia and Beach Camp.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini asserted that the impact of this conflict on Palestine refugees, like that of the three preceding rounds of violence, has been devastating.

“The trauma suffered by Gaza’s population, including some 1.4 million Palestine refugees, will continue to reverberate for a long time,” he added.

Lazzarini concluded that UNRWA is on the ground in Gaza ready to press on with the massive recovery efforts in a timely, efficient and secure manner.

“But we rely on the generous support of our partners to implement all the necessary reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, and protection projects outlined in this urgent appeal.”