US Jerusalem consulate-embassy merger upsets Palestinians

Erika Holt
March 11, 2019

The US consulate in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new US Embassy to Israel on Monday, the State Department said, a planned merger that has angered Palestinian leadership.

In a statement issued on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that the merging of the consulate with the embassy "is not an administrative decision".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the move will not constitute a change in policy and is meant to improve "efficiency and effectiveness". But this improvement does not negate just Palestinian demands to end Israel's illegal occupation of their land, or the detail of peace deals sponsored by previous U.S. administrations since the Madrid Peace Conference held in 1991.

But, as the State Department said, the move changes nothing and said the "efficiency and effectiveness" of its critical work helping all in Israel will be enhanced by a larger team of diplomats. It's been the de facto U.S. Embassy to the Palestinian territories ever since the Palestinian Authority (ph) government was set up after the Oslo peace accords in the '90s.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. "But this merger does major harm to the USA ability to act as a mediator in the conflict and serves as a severe blow to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace through a two-state solution".

"One of the most important steps on supporting our Palestinian brothers is to stop any forms of normalizing relations with Israeli occupants, that is why we are calling for taking a resolute and firm position on putting an end to any forms of normalizing relations with Israel", the statement said.

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What had functioned as the USA mission to the Palestinians since the 1990s is now officially known as the Palestinian Affairs Unit.

Palestinians view him - along with Trump's administration - as blatantly biased in favour of Israel.

Wisma Putra said the move would sound the death knell of the two-state solution that enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the global community.

We have all heard a lot about the U.S. Embassy because it moved to Jerusalem past year, and that was big news. It has cut funding to the United Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinians classified as refugees. The State Department official could not confirm reports that the consul general's residence in Jerusalem would eventually become the home for the USA ambassador as part of the embassy's move to the city, which began last May.

U.S. officials pledge that the plan will be fair despite Palestinians' dismissal of such claims.

Despite US assurances that old consular services will continue running as normal under new departments, some Palestinians and American citizens living in the occupied West Bank have expressed fears that the already lacking consular services will now be made even more hard.

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