US Shelving Plans to Reopen Pro-Palestinian Consulate in Jerusalem: Report

The Biden administration has “effectively shelved” plans to reopen the U.S. diplomatic mission for Palestinians in Jerusalem, The Times of Israel reported.

Former President Donald Trump moved the consulate to within the U.S. Embassy in 2019 after the embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In May, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the Biden administration would reopen the consulate in Jerusalem in a move toward restoring ties with Palestinians.

The Times of Israel reported Tuesday that a U.S. diplomat, a former senior U.S. official, and another source familiar with the matter said this week that the administration “has effectively shelved its effort to resurrect the de facto mission to the Palestinians.”

“It’s not a perfect solution, and we still would like to see the consulate back up and running fully, but since that’s not happening any time soon — if at all — this is an important change as well as one that won’t anger the Israelis,” one source told the Times.

Although the State Department’s official stance remains that the Biden administration “will move forward with the process of reopening the consulate in Jerusalem,” the three sources told the Times no such process had begun, and no final decision had been made.

The former senior U.S. official also told the Times that administration advocates for reopening the consulate had shifted their focus to policies more likely to impact day-to-day Palestinians.

Israel, which disagrees with the administration’s plan to exhaust diplomatic efforts in trying to revive the Iran nuclear deal, would need to sign off on the reopening of the consulate.

The Times noted that Trump’s decision regarding the consulate did not close the building in west Jerusalem. Diplomats have continued to work there, “albeit under the auspices of a newly coined Palestinian Affairs Unit [PAU].”

Former U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who facilitated the consulate’s closing, said the old mission had an anti-Israel bias. The pro-Palestinian consulate sometimes would contradict memos Washington received from the U.S. Embassy.

Trump said that channeling cables through one source would make messaging more coherent, the Times reported.

The Palestinian Authority, which stopped cooperating with the consulate after Trump’s move, ended its boycott following Blinken’s announcement. It was unclear how the Palestinian Authority would respond to news that plans of reopening the consulate were being moved to the back burner, the Times said.

Three sources told the Times that the PAU has begun independently reporting back to Washington during the past several months.

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