Palestinians, Israel spar over US mission in Jerusalem

Published November 8, 2021
A flag of the United States flies outside the then-US consulate building in Jerusalem in this file photo. — AP
A flag of the United States flies outside the then-US consulate building in Jerusalem in this file photo. — AP

TEL AVIV: The Palestinians on Sunday slammed Israel for rejecting the promised reopening of the US consulate in Jerusalem, a move that would restore Washington’s main diplomatic mission for the Palestinians in the contested city.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said late on Saturday there was no room in Jerusalem for another American mission.

The Trump administration shuttered the US Jerusalem consulate, an office that for years served as the de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged to reopen it, a move that Israel says would challenge its sovereignty over the city. The reopening could help mend US ties with the Palestinians ruptured under Trump.

In a statement, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it views the reopening of the consulate as part of the international community’s commitments to ending Israel’s decades-long occupation of territories the Palestinians seek for their future state.

East Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the occupied Palestinian territory and is the capital of the state of Palestine. Israel, as the occupying power, does not have the right to veto the US administrations decision, the statement said.

Asked about the consulate at a press conference, Bennett repeated Israel’s position on Jerusalem.

There’s no room for another American consulate in Jerusalem, he said. Jerusalem is the capital of one state and that’s the state of Israel. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested the consulate could instead be opened in the Palestinian administrative center in Ramallah, West Bank. The Palestinians reject the idea because it would undermine their claims to Jerusalem.

Israel views Jerusalem as its eternal, undivided capital. The Palestinians seek the eastern part of the city, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed, as capital of their hoped-for state.

The consulate is emerging as another test between Bennett’s government and the Biden administration, which has moved to restore traditional US foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinians after the Trump White House largely sided with Israel on issues related to the conflict.

Trump had downgraded the consulate’s operations and placed them under his ambassador to Israel when he moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city in 2018. The embassy move infuriated the Palestinians and led them to sever most ties with the Trump administration.

Blinken has not provided a firm date for the reopening and US officials have implied that Israeli resistance to the move could act as a hindrance.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Population calamity
Updated 22 Jul, 2024

Population calamity

Pakistan can also control its growth rate by following the examples of its peers and implementing functional family planning programmes and campaigns.
Blow to occupation
22 Jul, 2024

Blow to occupation

THE International Court of Justice has delivered a legal blow to the decades-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
Seeking Priya Kumari
22 Jul, 2024

Seeking Priya Kumari

PRIYA Kumari — the minor girl who vanished on Ashura in 2021 while serving water at a sabeel in Sukkur district ...
Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.