Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday morning, Deputy Secretary of State Brian McKeon reassured Senators: “That’s my understanding—that we’d need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.”
McKeon responded to a question from Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), who asked point-blank: “I just want to confirm something on the record. Is it your understanding that, under US and international law, the Government of Israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the United States could open or reopen the US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, or does the Biden Administration believe it can move forward to establish a second U.S. mission in the Israel capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the Government of Israel?”
Sen. Hagerty on Tuesday introduced a bill that would block the Biden administration’s plan to reopen “a US consulate for the Palestinians that divides Jerusalem.”
Endorsed by 36 Republican senators, the “Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021 (S.3063)” aims to “protect the full and faithful implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and block the Biden Administration’s efforts to subvert the law.”
“President Biden continues to push forward his inflammatory plan to establish a second mission in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem—one for the Israelis and a second one for the Palestinians—despite the fact that this plan violates the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and is completely opposed by the Government of Israel,” Sen. Hagerty said. “It is regrettable that the Biden Administration insists on making moves that divide the United States and Israel when our two nations should be laser-focused on stopping Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime from going nuclear, on countering growing threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Iran-backed terrorist groups, and on strengthening and expanding the historic Abraham Accords that truly have increased peace in the Middle East. The Trump administration kept its promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish State, and Congress must do everything in our power to strengthen our posture.”
The Trump administration fully implemented the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel on December 6, 2017, moving the US Embassy to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, and closing the US Consulate General that served PA Arabs (consulate staff spoke only Arabic to visitors) and merging its functions into the new embassy’s Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) under the Chief of Mission authority.
Before the full implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the US consulate operated completely outside the authority of the embassy’s Chief of Mission.