An American Diplomatic Mission to the Palestinian Authority Doesn’t Belong in Jerusalem

July 28, 2021 | Elliott Abrams and Amanda Rothschild
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After the U.S. moved its embassy to Israel’s capital, it closed down its consulate in the city because the new embassy had subsumed its functions. But two months ago, the State Department announced that it intends to reopen the consulate, which will function as a mission to the Palestinian Authority. Elliott Abrams and Amanda Rothschild write:

There is no case in the entire world where a consulate general exists in the same city as a U.S. embassy, and in 2019 all American diplomatic activity [in Jerusalem] was consolidated into a single mission. This was logical, efficient, and followed the universal pattern; the U.S. embassy opened a Palestinian Affairs Unit, and most of the staff from the former consulate general continued in the same jobs.

Opening a new U.S. consulate now is . . . a stark departure not merely from the Trump administration’s policies, but also from the consistent position of the U.S. government over many decades. The move may in fact be illegal, and the United States likely needs permission from the Israeli government to proceed.

Most jarring, however, is that it amounts to a de-facto division of Israel’s capital and represents a distinct infringement on the sovereign rights of the Israeli state. In simple terms, the Biden administration is seeking to open a diplomatic mission serving a foreign entity in what the United States now rightly recognizes as Israel’s capital city. The consulate could instead be opened in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered. The decision to open it in Jerusalem delivers a dangerous and ambiguous signal that this administration may well support a divided Jerusalem.

The fact that the United States is even considering such a move is another unfortunate example of Israel being held to a different and discriminatory standard by the international community.

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