Why a US consulate shouldn’t happen in Jerusalem: opinion

The declared intention of the US administration to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem as a representative body of Palestinian leaders and to provide consular services to the population of the disputed territories is becoming a growing political obstacle in the relationship between Israel and the United States. United.

The complexity and sensitivity of the issue is compounded by statements by Palestinian leaders who are, in effect, making the issue a symbolic focal point in their claims to divide Jerusalem and cancel the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by Israel. the previous administration.

In addition to the commitments of the United States Congress over the years supporting Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel, the following points of international law cannot be ignored:

The 2018 proclamation irrevocably changed America’s policy regarding Jerusalem

• The May 2018 proclamation by the United States formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was a major shift in US policy. It reversed the situation that existed beforehand in which, since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the United States had never considered Jerusalem as sovereign territory of Israel.

CRISIS OR business as usual? A view of the United States Consulate General on Agron Street in Jerusalem. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

• The formal US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem established a new bilateral legal status that replaced the old policy of non-recognition, whereby the United States recognized the application of Israeli law in Jerusalem.

• The first situation had allowed the US, as well as some other states, to maintain independent consular missions, existing since the Ottoman administration of the mid-19th century in the area, intended to serve Americans visiting the Holy Land.

• With the establishment by the 1993-1995 Oslo Accords of the Palestinian Authority as an autonomous administration with powers and responsibilities in parts of the disputed territories, the separate and independent US Consulate in Jerusalem developed a new role of oversight of US relations with this Palestinian politician. entity, as well as with Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.

• By recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem, the 2018 proclamation irrevocably altered this situation and made the existence of an independent American consulate in Jerusalem at the service of the Palestinian administration and the population of the territories as redundant and incompatible with the official policy of USA.

International law requires the consent of the sovereign for the opening of a consulate in its territory

• With the recognition of Jerusalem in 2018 as the capital of Israel, the mutually accepted consular relationship between Israel and the United States is based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, to which both Israel and the United States are party.

• Article 4 of this convention determines that consular offices, or any other office that is part of a consular office, can be established in the territory of the receiving state only with the consent of that state. Likewise, articles 7 and 8 of the convention require that the exercise of consular functions vis-à-vis or on behalf of another State requires specific approval.

Commitments of the United States and Palestine under the 1995 Israel-PLO Interim Agreement (Oslo II)

• The United States is one of the signatories as a witness to the 1993-1995 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO.

• In art. IX (5) of the Israel-PLO Interim Agreement of 1995 (Oslo II), the parties agreed that the Palestinian Authority established by the agreement to administer the areas under its control will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, including allowing the establishment of foreign missions in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment or admission of diplomatic and consular personnel, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.

• The same article of the agreement provides for the possible establishment of “representative offices” by foreign states in the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority, as a means of promoting economic, cultural and other agreements for the benefit of the Authority. Palestine.

• Reopening a US consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinian Authority and its population would be totally incompatible with the Oslo Accords and would constitute a weakening of the status of the United States as a witness to the accords.

• The opening by the United States of such a representative office in Ramallah, Gaza or elsewhere in the territories under Palestinian rule would be in accordance with the documentation of the peace process agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians and endorsed by the United States and others, and would not require Israel’s consent, as Israeli law does not apply in those areas.

Only in this way could the United States establish a mission to provide services to the Palestinian Authority and its population that would be consistent with US policy, with US international law commitments, and that would not undermine US commitments and proclamations.

The writer is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and director of the Global Law Forum. He is a member of Mivtahi – Forum for a Safe Israel (FFSI). He served as legal advisor and deputy director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was ambassador to Canada.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *