Israeli PM: There’s no place for American consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem

Israeli occupation Prime Minister Naftali Bennett rejected the promised reopening of the U.S. diplomatic mission for the Palestinians in Jerusalem, claiming there is no place in the city for such an office.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday after the approval of the budget for 2021-2022, Bennett claimed “there is no place for an American consulate that serves the Palestinians in Jerusalem.”

“We are expressing our position consistently, quietly and without drama, and I hope it is understood. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel only,” Bennett continued in his claims.

“This had been conveyed to Washington “both by myself and by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid,” he said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also told reporters that “if the Americans want to open a consulate in Ramallah, we have no problem with that…. Sovereignty in Jerusalem belongs to one country alone, the State of Israel.”

There has never been a U.S. consulate in Ramallah, and the option of establishing one has never been discussed. Israeli officials on his behalf later clarified that Lapid did not mean an official consulate, but rather a liaison office.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced lately 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 Bennett, Israeli occupation Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

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.”

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.

A senior figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office told Israeli newspaper Haaretz last month that when the Palestinian president raised the issue of reopening the U.S. consulate in his October meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hady Amr, the latter told him that the matter is on Bennett’s desk.

“That shocked us. Why do you need Bennett’s approval if the administration truly supports the two-state solution?” said the senior figure. “Why renege on messages already conveyed to Ramallah regarding the consulate?”

There were also reports last month that the US could not open a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem without Israel’s authorization.

Sen. Bill Hagerty, who proposed a bill to ensure that the only American diplomatic entity in Jerusalem would be the embassy to the occupation state of ‘Israel’, asked Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon about the matter in a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“President [Joe] Biden’s proposal to open a second US mission in Jerusalem would begin to reverse the recognition of Jerusalem, and it would divide Israel’s eternal and undivided capital city,” Hagerty claimed.

“I just want to confirm something on the record,” he said.

“Is it your understanding that, under US and international law, the government of Israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the United States could open or reopen the US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, or does the Biden Administration believe it can move forward to establish a second US mission in the Israel capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the government of Israel?”

“Senator,” McKeon responded, “that’s my understanding – that we’d need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.”

(Source / 07.11.2021)

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