Postponing the opening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem

The American “Axios” website attributed to American, Israeli and Palestinian sources, on Wednesday, as saying that the Biden administration decided to postpone the reopening of the American consulate in Jerusalem until after the new Israeli government approved the budget, most likely in Early next November.

The website says, “This decision shows the extent of the Biden administration’s investment in helping to stabilize the new Israeli government,” in response to the request of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid.

According to the website, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are exerting great pressure on the US State Department to postpone the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem to avoid creating difficulties for the new government, which includes an unstable mix of parties with opposing views, especially in the context of the Israeli opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, exploiting the issue of Consulate to portray the government as weak and unable to stand up to the Biden administration.

The consulate served as the primary US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians until 2019, when the Trump administration closed it and integrated it into the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, in response to the wishes of the former US ambassador, David Friedman.

Biden has promised to reopen it, but the Israeli Foreign Ministry has asked the US State Department since the end of June to postpone the consulate's opening until after the summer at least to give the new government more time to stabilize.

According to Israeli sources, the new Israeli government is working to approve its budget by the fourth of next November, and if the budget is not approved, the government will fall, while if it passes, the government will almost certainly continue for another full year.

Netanyahu is trying to exploit the reopening of the consulate to create more friction between the two sides, and says that by agreeing to the US move, the government will accept the “dividing of Jerusalem.”

Independent sources claim that Palestinian officials told a bipartisan Congressional delegation that visited Ramallah two weeks ago that they were aware that the consulate would not reopen until after the budget was passed, and said they could accept it if the Biden administration pledged to do so.

Jerusalem has learned that consultations within the US State Department on reopening the consulate, including who will be the consul general, are ongoing and are expected to take some time. The US State Department did not comment on that

Axios claims that Israeli officials have told them that they are satisfied with the level of dialogue, coordination and understanding they have received from the Biden administration thus far, and say that “such good coordination was necessary earlier this week when a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on the occasion of the Jewish holy day of Tisha indicated Buff erroneously referred to the Jews' "freedom of worship" on the Temple Mount, which is what Muslims know as the Temple Mount.

Al-Quds learned that the reopening of the US Consulate in Jerusalem and the timing of that was one of the items discussed by the Jordanian King, King Abdullah II, with the US Secretary of State on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

 

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