Israeli officials are celebrating the news that the US will not be reopening its Jerusalem consulate for the purpose of strengthening its relations with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The head of the Binyamin Regional Council, which borders both Jerusalem and the PA’s seat of government Ramallah, Yisrael Gantz, is especially pleased and released a statement thanking Israel’s friends in the American government who he credited with helping to stop the move.
The Biden administration had planned to reopen the American Consulate on Agron Street in the center of Jerusalem. The consulate was closed after it became moot when the main consulate compound in the city was upgraded to the status of an embassy. That move came after the US formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol under President Trump.
It is unusual, to say the least, for a nation to operate both an embassy and a consulate in the same city.
The Israeli government had lobbied hard to prevent any such move, pointing out that the host nation must approve any new consulate in its country. Also, the reason for reopening the consulate was to use it for American relations with the PA. Israel informed the US that any such consulate if it is intended for Palestinian relations, should be opened in Ramallah and not Jerusalem. Opening such a consulate in Jerusalem would put into question the American commitment to Israel’s sovereignty there.
The reason for the US decision was reportedly the continued pressure from the Israeli government.
A PA source, who was recently involved in a series of meetings with senior American officials, told TPS that “this move is not surprising as in recent months many indications have accumulated regarding the lukewarm American policy on the Palestinian issue.”
It needs to be pointed out, however, that the decision not to reopen the Jerusalem consulate is only a temporary one. While it may be off the table, for now, no formal repudiation of such a move has been made by the Biden Administration and so it could still revive the idea in the future. But, according to experts on diplomacy, it is unlikely that the American government is thinking about doing so.
As for Council Head Gantz, about two months ago he met personally with a number of senators and congressmen in the US. He spoke with them about preventing the opening of the consulate, and assistance in promoting the development of Jewish towns. On Thursday, he responded to the news by saying, “I want to thank all our friends in the Senate and Congress for their efforts. We explained the dangers of this move and they promised to take action. I am very grateful for that.”
“We send our thanks from here to all our dear friends in the US Congress, for taking a strong stance on the indisputable status of our eternal capital, Jerusalem and that it belongs only to the State of Israel and the Jewish People,” added Gantz. “I hope that the establishment of the consulate for Arabs in Jerusalem has indeed been canceled.”
Gantz also explained how the establishment of such a consulate in Israel’s capitol, Jerusalem, could be seen by the world as a first step by the US toward the recognition of a Palestinian State and that this would constitute a threat to the survival of the Jewish towns that surround Jerusalem.
“We have true partners on the other side of the ocean,” added Gantz. “We will continue to work toward promoting our position regarding the Jewish towns throughout the State of Israel.”
The political team of Binyamin Regional Council, Eliana Passentin and Ruthie Lieberman continue to work with bipartisan Congressional leadership on these issues.