United States folds diplomatic representation to the Palestinians into its Jerusalem Embassy

Pauline Gross
October 20, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in announcing the decision to merge the Jerusalem consulate into the embassy, said it was made to "improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations" and did not signal a change of policy.

But some say it signals a downgrade of the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians. He insisted the merger of the two missions did not signal a change in United States policy on the status of Jerusalem, the West Bank, or Gaza Strip.

Morrison announced on Tuesday that the government would consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital "without prejudice as to its final boundaries" and examine the merits of moving the embassy to the western part of the city.

"The US decision. has nothing to do with "efficiency" and a lot to do with pleasing an ideological US team that is willing to disband the foundations of American foreign policy, and of the worldwide system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes", the Palestinians' chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

Trump administration is making clear that it is working together with the Israeli regime to impose Greater Israel rather than the two-state solution.

The consulate downgrade is just the latest in a series of decisions by Trump that the Palestinians say shows bias against them. The announcement "closing the US consulate in Jerusalem and transferring its responsibilities to the embassy ends the last vestige of American support for the city's division".

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday a billion-dollar free trade agreement with Indonesia will be signed this year despite a furious reaction to Canberra's potential move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Palestinians, however, see the city as the capital of their future state. "We will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside U.S. Embassy Jerusalem", said Pompeo.

The Trump administration will not longer have separate US diplomatic posts for Israel and the Palestinians, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement this morning.

"I think people respect that countries will take positions on things from time to time", he said. "He is practically saying Jerusalem is for Israel", Israel Hayom quoted Shaath as saying. "It complicates peace and makes it impossible".

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. However, since 1995 it has been US law to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, mandates that the Trump Administration has boldly implemented.

Since he became US ambassador to Israel, Friedman, a longtime supporter and fundraiser for the West Bank settlement movement, had argued he should have authority over the consulate, which for decades has operated differently than nearly every other USA consulate around the world. In addition, it has shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington, revoking the visas of all Palestinian representatives.

Other reports by GizPress

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