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US Postpones Opening its Consulate in Jerusalem

US Postpones Opening its Consulate in Jerusalem

Friday, 2 July, 2021 - 08:45
A man walks next to a road sign directing to the US embassy in Jerusalem, February 18, 2019. (Reuters)

The Israeli government asked the US administration to hold off plans to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, claiming that such a measure would create “political difficulties” for the new government, according to officials in Tel Aviv.

Walla website quoted the officials as saying that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently asked Washington to delay reopening the consulate, saying that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is using the issue to portray the government as weak and unable to stand up to the Biden administration.

The US administration had announced its intention to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem, as a diplomatic representative specialized in dealing with the Palestinians, in reference to the change of policy of former President Donald Trump.

Trump closed the consulate in 2019, as part of punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority for rejecting the deal of the century.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced during his visit to Israel last May, prior to the formation of the new Israeli government, that the US administration would reopen the consulate in Jerusalem.

According to Walla, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Washington to wait until at least after the summer to give the new government more time to stabilize.

Israeli officials believe the Biden administration understands the complexity of the situation and agreed to the request and will refrain from pressing it for the time being.

At the time, Netanyahu had requested during his meeting with Blinken, the reopening of the US Consulate in Ramallah or Abu Dis.

Blinken rejected Netanyahu's request and made clear that the administration wants the consulate to be in Jerusalem.

The former PM told Blinken that he intended to make political use of the case, noting that “if you insist on opening the consulate in Jerusalem, you are going to help me score political win.”

During a meeting of the Likud party parliamentary bloc early last month, Netanyahu said that "the dangerous left-wing government will not withstand the decision to re-establish an American consulate for the Palestinians in the heart of Jerusalem."

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