Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. to Merge Jerusalem Consulate in to New Embassy

U.S. to Merge Jerusalem Consulate in to New Embassy

Mr Pompeo said USA activities with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem would now be run through a new "Palestinian affairs unit" inside the United States embassy that would operate from the current consulate site on Agron road. "I have asked our Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to guide the merger", Pompeo said in a statement. The two say, however, that they are close to formulating an innovative peace plan to end the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tensions have been running high in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip since last December, when Trump chose to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital" and relocate Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to the Palestinian city. It will remain in its current location, at least for now, the State Department said.

In December 2017, United Nations member states voted decisively at the General Assembly in favour of a resolution effectively declaring U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital to be "null and void" and demanding it be cancelled.

The merger is meant to "achieve significant efficiencies and increase our effectiveness" of the American mission, according to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties", the statement said, apparently to assuage Palestinian concerns about the change.

In a statement, US secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "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 the US Embassy Jerusalem".

In remarks to The New York Times, Daniel C. Kurtzer, an ex-envoy to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said the Trump administration's decision regarding its mission for Palestinians in the occupied territories would certainly be counterproductive.

Palestinians, with broad worldwide backing, seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Michael Oren, Israel's deputy Cabinet minister for public diplomacy and a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, appeared to lend credence to that view in a tweet welcoming the step. The announcement "closing the USA consulate in Jerusalem and transferring its responsibilities to the embassy ends the last vestige of American support for the city's division. Israel is deeply grateful".

Angered by Trump's move, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas boycotted his administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an worldwide mechanism should be devised to replace the United States in the so-called peace process. In December, President Trump upended decades of us foreign policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"The US decision to end the existence of the US Consulate. 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 global system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes", he said in a statement.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. "This decision has nothing to do with peace". The official said it should not be construed as a rejection of the possibility of renewing peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Trump, however, has offered confused and mixed messaging on the issue, saying Jerusalem is now "off the table" for any peace negotiations after he recognised the holy city as Israel's capital.

Pompeo's announcement came weeks after the U.S. shut down the Palestinian mission in Washington amid sour relations between the two sides. The consulate has been unusual in that it operates as the de facto American representative to the Palestinian Authority.

Like this: