Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Jerusalem municipality workers hang road signs to the US embassy, May 7, 2018.

The Reut Group (formerly known as the Reut Institute), a non-profit policy think tank and Israeli lobby organization, on Wednesday issued a call on Israel and its friends in the US suggesting the Biden Administration is “facing immediate and inevitable decisions regarding representation between the US and the Palestinians.” And while the newcomers in the White House are expected to engage in internal matters, these US foreign policy issues must be addressed now.

Reut recommends urgently that Israel “establish and promote its interests on the issue of Palestinian diplomatic representation with the goals of preserving and enhancing key achievements from the Trump Administration including:

  • To strengthen the international recognition in Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to bring more embassies to Jerusalem, especially the Abraham Accords countries of UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco
  • To resolve the diplomatic abnormality of the consulates in Jerusalem that serve as de-facto embassies to the PA (For example, the Wikipedia page of the French Consulate General says: “The Consulate’s districts … is independent of the Embassy of France in Tel Aviv and does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel.” Namely, the French Consulate, situated right by the Kind David Hotel, does not speak to the Government of Israel!)
  • Israel should also encourage the Biden administration to “consolidate the reality of the PA as the diplomatic representative of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza (as opposed to the PLO that represents all Palestinians). Note: Israel is already working almost exclusively with the PA.

Guided by these overall goals, Reut suggests the following positions:

  • American diplomatic representation to the PA, likely to be reestablished by Biden, should be located in a consulate or even an Embassy to the PA located in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu-Dis that was designated by the Trump Plan and by Prime Minister Netanyahu as part of the future Palestinian capital beyond the security barrier. A second-best option is to be situated in Ramallah.
  • If Biden then insists on reopening the American Consulate in Jerusalem it should be designated to Jerusalemites only, consistent with its original intention. This will create an important precedent for other consulates in Jerusalem e.g. Greece, France, the UK, etc., whose consulates should no longer serve as embassies to the PA.
  • The Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, likely to be reopened by Biden, should represent the PA (as opposed to the PLO), to reflect that the PA is the platform for Palestinian statehood. Effectively, the Chief of Mission should be the Ambassador of the PA. [Meanwhile, the PLO is a non-governmental organization that claims to represent citizens of other countries throughout the Middle East). Hence, a PLO-led delegation is out-of-date. President Trump ended that abnormality.]

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