Photo Credit: Flash90
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ramallah, May 25, 2021.

The tension between Israel and the United States over the Jerusalem consulate that would cater to the needs of Palestinian Authority residents stems from a lack of coordination between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, according to a Sunday report in Israel Hayom citing a political source involved in the relationship between the government and the administration in Washington (גורם מדיני ל”ישראל היום”: לפיד פעל בחוסר תיאום עם בנט והטעה את האמריקנים).

According to the source, Foreign Minister Lapid gave his American counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, an early commitment that it would be possible to carry out the move.

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In a phone conversation with Blinken several months ago, Lapid noted that due to the sensitive political structure of the government, it would be better to open the controversial consulate only after the state budget is passed in the Knesset, at which point the stability of the government would be proven. Blinken accepted Lapid’s position and agreed to wait until the Knesset approved the budget.

However, about a month after the formation of the government, contacts began between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s advisers and the administration on the same issue, the PM’s envoys to Washington made it clear that Bennett opposes the opening of the consulate even after the budget is approved. The American administration was taken aback, and according to IH’s political source, the reason Antony Blinken announced last week, with Lapid standing at his side, that he does intend to open the consulate—knowing Israel is opposed to the move—was the Secretary’s way of getting back at Lapid for misleading him.

As you may recall, last Wednesday in Washington, DC, Secretary of State Blinken reiterated his pledge to re-establish the consulate, which had long been used for diplomatic outreach to PA representatives until it was closed by President Donald Trump in 2018.

Blinken, speaking at a news conference with Lapid and the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: “We’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening of those ties with the Palestinians.”

Legal scholar Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of the Kohelet Forum said that “the reopening of the consulate would be a revocation of US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It has no other meaning.”

Noting that no other country in the world permits a second country to open a consulate for a third country’s residents, Kontorovich wrote (מבחן הקונסוליה): “The United States does not want to open a consulate just so that it can have diplomatic relations with the PA, for which purpose it can open a branch in Ramallah, where other countries maintain their relations with the PA, or reopen the Palestinian delegation in Washington. The purpose of opening the consulate is to recognize Palestinian claims on Jerusalem. If there is no legitimate claim on the city, there’s no reason to have a consulate there. That is why the issue is at the top of the anti-Israel agenda of Democratic Congressman Ilhan Omar.”

“They need Israeli approval to open this mission, and it is important to understand what the risk is: the American plan, promoted through US envoy Hadi Amar, will being on Palestinian demands regarding Jerusalem as their capital. If Israel agrees to the opening of a consulate, it would be an Israeli seal of approval to the Palestinians’ demands,” Kontorovich clarified.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.