Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: U.S. Pressured to Open Consulates in Jerusalem and Western Sahara

In talks this week with the top American diplomat, Arab leaders made clear they wanted a concrete sign of the Biden administration’s support: the opening of U.S. consulates in both Jerusalem and the disputed territory of Western Sahara. But Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken studiously avoided any public commitment as to when those diplomatic missions might become a reality, if ever. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/30/world/africa/jerusalem-western-sahara-us-consulates.html) The fate of the consulates already promised by the United States — one to serve Palestinians in Jerusalem and the other in Western Sahara — has hung over the Biden administration since its earliest days. Both would require President Biden to decide whether to stick with dramatic foreign policy shifts brought about by the Trump administration, or reverse them and face a diplomatic and political backlash from longtime allies. Neither were mentioned in the Biden administration’s $1 billion spending plan for construction, maintenance and security at embassies and diplomatic compounds around the world in 2023 — casting doubt that they would be open before the end of next year. That made Mr. Blinken’s silence on the subject all the more notable when it surfaced after meetings in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, and in Rabat, Morocco’s capital.

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