Bennett: There is no place in Jerusalem for a US consulate for Palestinians

Israel has told the Biden administration that it opposes any plan to reopen the U.S. consulate general serving Palestinians in Jerusalem because the city is the undivided capital of the Jewish state, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters on Saturday night.

“My position, which I have presented to the Americans by myself and by Foreign Minister Lapid, is that there is no place for an American consulate serving the Palestinians in Jerusalem,” Bennett said.

“We have expressed our position [to the US] with determination, calm, without drama, and I hope it is understood. Jerusalem is just the capital of Israel. “

Lapid endorsed Bennett, saying: “Sovereignty in Jerusalem [belongs] to a country, the State of Israel ”, adding that“ this is a principled position of the State of Israel to open a consulate in Jerusalem ”.

The problem here is Jerusalem and not a consulate for the Palestinians, Lapid emphasized, adding that the United States can open a consulate for the Palestinians in Ramallah.

A coalition of organizations opposing the Biden Administration’s intention to reopen a US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem held a vigil in Jerusalem. (credit: courtesy)

Former President Donald Trump in 2019 had shut down the US consulate general in Jerusalem that served the Palestinians and acted as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority. It had provided a direct line between the Palestinian Authority and Washington. His services were merged with those of the US Embassy, ​​which moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.

The Biden administration has promised the Palestinian Authority that it will reopen the consulate general, but has yet to follow through on that promise or even provide a date for such an opening.

The United States was expected to move forward with the matter only after the government had successfully approved its budget on Thursday.

This issue is presumed to be a point of growing tension between Jerusalem and Washington, along with continued settlement activity that the Biden administration disapproves of.

It is as if the United States needs Israel’s approval to reopen the consulate, even though the building itself exists and the change is solely at the policy level.

Bennett played down the importance of Israeli opposition to US plans to reopen the consulate general.

“There is much more we agree on with our American friends than we disagree on,” he said.

Bennett and Lapid spoke as Senior Global Energy Security Advisor, Amos Hochstein is scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories on Sunday and Monday. He will meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss energy security. Hochstein will also discuss maritime negotiations with Israeli officials.

In addition to Hochstein’s arrival, Colombian President Iván Duque will land in Israel on Sunday for a three-day visit.

On Tuesday it will open a trade and innovation office in Jerusalem, which would be a satellite of its Tel Aviv office. The measure is a nod to Colombian recognition of Israeli sovereignty over its capital city.

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