On Thursday, the US government took steps toward increasing the level of recognition given to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Jerusalem. The US upgraded the status of the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) based in in its Jerusalem embassy, renaming it the Office of Palestinian Affairs (OPA).
The move comes as Israel continues to try and stop efforts by some in the Biden administration to reopen the US consulate in downtown Jerusalem and transform it into a mission to the PA.
After the US formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol in 2017, it shut down what was then considered a de facto mission to the PA that operated in Jerusalem. That unit was replaced by the PAU.
The new unit will still serve under the US embassy in Israel, but will report on “substantive” matters directly to the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau in the State Department.
In practice, this means that the PA can now deal directly with the State Department in Washington and not need to go through the embassy in Jerusalem.
A spokesperson for the OPA said in a statement that the new OPA reporting structure is “designed to strengthen our diplomatic reporting and public diplomacy engagement.”
The government of Israel was informed of the changes in advance and made no objections to the moves.