Israel suggests US opens consulate for Palestinians in West Bank, not Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, Nov. 6 (Reuters) – Israel on Saturday stepped up public opposition to President Joe Biden’s administration plans to reopen a US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, suggesting that such a mission should be in the occupied West Bank.
Under former President Donald Trump, Washington delighted the Israelis and outraged the Palestinians by shutting down the Jerusalem consulate and placing its staff within the United States Embassy in Israel which was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and have seen the US initiative to relocate its embassy as undermining that aspiration. Israel, which took East Jerusalem in 1967, calls Jerusalem its indivisible capital.
Seeking to reestablish ties with the Palestinians, the Biden administration announced it would reopen the consulate, although it did not give a date.
“My position, and it has been presented to the Americans … is that there is no place for an American consulate serving the Palestinians in Jerusalem. We express our opinion in a coherent, low-key, non-drama way. “Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters. .
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, speaking next to Bennett, proposed the reopening of the consulate in the de facto seat of the Palestinian government in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.
“If they (the United States) want to open a consulate in Ramallah, we have no problem,” he said.
In Ramallah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Lapid’s comments.
“We will only accept a US consulate in Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state. This is what the US administration announced and pledged to do,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Reuters.
Spokesmen for the US Embassy did not immediately comment.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that Washington would “go ahead with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening these ties with the Palestinians,” although a of its senior officials also said Israel’s rejection of the plan was an obstacle. . Read more
“I understand (is) that we need the consent of the host government to open a diplomatic facility,” Assistant Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon said during a hearing in the United States Senate when he been questioned about the consulate’s deadlock.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Edmund Blair
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