Urge the Biden administration to give up on the idea of reopening the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which would be a de-facto Palestinian embassy in the Israeli capital.
Troubling reports this week indicate that Secretary of State of Antony Blinken is pressing forward to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.
First, the Palestinian daily, Al-Quds, quoted sources with ties to the White House that the administration of President Joe Biden is preparing for the possibility of unilaterally reopening the consulate in western Jerusalem even over Israeli opposition.
Separately, Israel Hayom reported that the U.S. is in talks with the Palestinian Authority to open a second consulate to serve Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem.
In a decades-long diplomatic slight to Israel, the U.S and other countries maintained their embassies in the Tel Aviv area, while a few opened consulates in Jerusalem. In 2018, President Donald Trump ended that affront by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy there. Responsibility for consular services — for Israelis, Palestinians and American citizens — were shifted to the embassy, as is standard practice for diplomatic missions.
During the 2020 presidential election campaign, Joe Biden called the move “short-sighted and frivolous” though he added that he would not transfer the embassy back to Tel Aviv if elected.
While it’s welcome news that the embassy will remain in Jerusalem, reopening a Jerusalem consulate for the Palestinians is the next best gift it can give the PA.
There are numerous reasons the objective Blinken is tasked with spearheading is ill-advised.
1. It’s a political issue. Nobody complains that the Palestinians are receiving inadequate consular services at the embassy.
2. There is no legal basis. No state can unilaterally open a diplomatic mission without the permission and accreditation of the host country.
3. It’s a diplomatic snub. No other capital city in the world hosts consulates. Only embassies.
4. A consulate for Palestinians should be in a location under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. In September, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested to Biden that the U.S. open a consulate outside Jerusalem, or in Ramallah, where the State Dept. maintains an educational and cultural center.
5. The building that would serve as the consulate isn’t even located in eastern Jerusalem, but on Agron Road in the city center, squarely in the western side of the city.
6. A consulate exclusively serving Palestinians in effect divides the city. To better understand why, simply imagine the Palestinian objections if the U.S. sought to open a consulate in Gush Etzion to serve Israelis.
7. A consulate prejudices peace talks and encourages Palestinian intransigence. Why should the PA make any concessions for peace if they can pocket whatever gains the U.S. can deliver for free?
8. It violates Israeli and U.S. law.
There are no good reasons to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, only plenty of bad ones.
Demand the Biden administration not reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem!
Contact President Joe Biden through the White House web site.
Contact Secretary of State Antony Blinken by calling 1-202-647-4000 or by tweeting him at @secblinken.
You can also tweet State Dept. spokesman Ned Price at @statedeptspox.