Israel Suggests US Open Consulate in West Bank instead of Jerusalem

Israel Suggests US Open Consulate in West Bank instead of Jerusalem

Israel on Saturday suggested President Joe Bide's administration reopen the US consulate for Palestinians in the West Bank rather than in Jerusalem.

Ummatimes - Under former President Donald Trump, the United States pleased Israelis and angered Palestinians by closing the Jerusalem consulate and placing its 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 that aspiration. Israel, which captured East Jerusalem in 1967, claims Jerusalem as their capital.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is trying to improve relations with Palestine. His government recently said it would reopen the consulate, though it has not given a date.

"My position, and that was conveyed to America...is that there is no place for a US consulate serving the Palestinians in Jerusalem. We voice our opinion consistently, quietly, without drama," Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was quoted as saying. Reuters, November 8, 2021.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, speaking next to Bennett, proposed reopening the consulate at the Palestinian government's de facto site 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.

In Ramallah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Lapid's comments.

"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, Abbas' spokesman, told Reuters.

A US Embassy spokesman did not immediately comment.

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, although one of his senior staff members also 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 impasse in the American consulate in Jerusalem.