Report: US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem could be opened in weeks

Sources with ties to the White House told the Palestinian Al-Quds daily that Washington is planning to go ahead with the opening of its consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem “shortly” after the state budget is passed next month, in other words as soon as either November or early December.

The American sources said US President Joe Biden’s administration “was furious with Israel’s policies” on expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and was concerned by tensions in the West Bank, in particular the recent violent attack by settlers against Palestinians in Hebron.

In the first stage, the White House plans to reach an agreement with ‘Israel on the issue, according to the sources.

Should those efforts fail, the government could take the unilateral step of reopening the consulate once the budget has passed and the government is likely to remain stable.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last Wednesday that Washington will be moving forward with its plan of reopening its consulate which served Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“We’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians,” Blinken stated at the State Department as speaking to the press after hosting a trilateral meeting with Israeli occupation Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Last May, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would be reopening the Consulate General in Jerusalem that handled relations with the Palestinians.

Biden said he would keep the US embassy in Jerusalem “to engage the Palestinians.”

The consulate dates back to 1844 and served for 25 years as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians.

However, in 2018, outgoing President Donald Trump merged the consulate into the US embassy in Jerusalem, after he moved the US embassy to ‘Israel’ from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Several Israeli officials opposed the US plan, including Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli occupation Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

Bennett proposed to the US President Joe Biden that the American Consulate reopened on the outskirts of Ramallah or in the occupied West Bank town of Abu Dis, but the United States has said it is not interested in the plan.

In a conversation with Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz at the Jerusalem Post Conference, Sa’ar also said that he strongly opposes the opening of a US consulate that handled relations with Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, adding that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is on the same page.

“I spoke with [Prime Minister Naftali Bennett] a couple of times on the issue. We are on the same page, and we don’t see differently,” Saar added. “Someone said it’s an electoral commitment. But for us, it’s a generation’s commitment. We will not compromise on this.”

Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu also called on the current government to oppose the Biden administration’s plan.

“Once again, the Bennett government ‘contains’ [the situation] even when it means dividing our capital, Jerusalem. The State of Israel must oppose this move in every way possible,” Netanyahu said.

(Source / 20.10.2021)

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