Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Future uncertain for US Palestinian affairs consulate in Jerusalem

The Biden administration has effectively shelved its efforts to reopen a consulate for Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem, according to Dec. 15 press reports citing unnamed senior American officials. The administration has not confirmed the news. The facility was closed by the Trump administration 2019. Israeli politicians from both the coalition and the opposition have expressed objections to a possible reopening over the past few months. They include Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who presented a united front on the issue. Speaking at a press conference after the approval of the 2021-2022 state budget, Bennett stated, “There is no place for an American consulate that serves the Palestinians in Jerusalem.” He said that this position was clearly conveyed to Washington by himself and by the foreign minister, noting, “We are expressing our position consistently, quietly and without drama, and I hope it is understood. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel alone.” Lapid went further, saying, “If the Americans want to open a consulate in Ramallah, we have no problem with that,” but “sovereignty in Jerusalem belongs to one country: Israel.” (https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/12/future-uncertain-us-palestinian-affairs-consulate-jerusalem) One of the opposition’s most outspoken politicians on the issue is Likud Knesset member Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor from 2008 until 2018. In early December, Barkat toured the United States, visiting several states and meeting with American Jewish leaders and elected officials. While his primary mission was to campaign against the Vienna talks with Iran and against a new nuclear agreement, he also took it upon himself to campaign against the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the consulate.

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