Israel Asks US to Open Consulate in West Bank

Israel Asks US to Open Consulate in West Bank

Israel has stepped up its opposition to plans by the administration of US President Joe Biden to reopen the consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem. The Israeli government suggested such a mission should be carried out in the occupied West Bank, Saturday (6/11).

Ummatimes - "My position, and that was conveyed to America ... is that there is no place for a US consulate serving Palestine in Jerusalem. We voice our opinion consistently, quietly, without drama," said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid proposed reopening the Palestinian government's de-facto consulate in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. "If they (the United States) want to open a consulate in Ramallah, we have no problem with that," he said.

Former President Donald Trump closed the US consulate in Jerusalem and placed staff at the US Embassy to Israel which was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and see the US initiative to move its embassy undermining those aspirations. Seeking to improve relations with the Palestinians, the Biden administration has said it will reopen the consulate, although it has not given a date.

Hearing Israel's offer for the opening of a US consulate in the West Bank, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declined to comment. "We will only accept the US consulate in Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state. That is what the US administration has announced and has done," Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month Washington would move forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening ties with the Palestinians. But one of his senior staff said Israel's rejection of the plan was an obstacle.

"My understanding (is) that we need approval from the host government to open any diplomatic facilities," Under Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon told a US Senate hearing when asked about the consulate deadlock.