US, Israel to Form Team to Discuss Palestinian Consulate
i24 News – The United States and Israel are planning to form a team that will hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem serving Palestinians, Israeli officials told Axios reporter Barak Ravid.
The diplomatic mission was the US government’s de facto representative office to the Palestinian Authority before being shut down by the administration of former president Donald Trump in March 2019.
The consulate was downgraded to the Palestinian Affairs Unit and merged with the US Embassy in Jerusalem that opened in May of 2018 after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump acted under the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requiring the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. The law was waived by previous presidents.
The current Israeli government opposes the reopening of the Palestinian consulate, citing the fragile nature of the diverse coalition cobbled together that succeeded in ousting former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power after 12 years in office.
However, US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a recent White House visit that his administration is determined to reopen the the consulate.
During a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid to Washington last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly proposed a working group consisting of a small team including Lapid and himself to begin a dialogue on finding a solution.
Lapid agreed to the formation of a joint team but not until after the Israeli government passes a budget in the first week of November.