If the new mission is approved, it will be the first US permanent diplomatic presence in West Bank since 1967, when it withdrew
Israel doubles down against US, saying there is no room in Jerusalem for an American Consulate for Palestinians
Israel has declared the plan to open a US consulate for Palestinians in East Jerusalem to be unconstitutional and illegal – a threat that appears designed to scupper the opening and signal its determination to assert sovereignty over the West Bank.
The US Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has threatened to resign if it goes ahead. However, this will not be enough to stop Trump administration officials in the legal process. The Jerusalem law, unanimously approved by the Knesset in March, says the US must open a consulate or embassy in East Jerusalem.
The rules of engagement at US diplomatic missions are strict, and only the US government can nominate an ambassador for the country. Jerusalem has been represented in Washington for decades, but the status of the city is fiercely contested and even liberal-leaning countries such as Italy are not moving diplomatic missions to the occupied city.
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Even in Israel, the Jerusalem consulate was proposed by a liberal Jewish member of the Kadima party. It will be the first permanent US diplomatic presence in the occupied West Bank since 1967, when it withdrew.
The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, and Arab and European countries have expressed outrage at Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – the most blatant violation of international law in the history of the US.
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Since his inauguration in January, Trump has only committed to moving the embassy at a “later date”. His relationship with Netanyahu and the Israeli government, who have welcomed the decision, has led analysts to predict that this is his opening act and that he is ready to deliver more on Israel’s long-standing claims to all of Jerusalem, including its holy sites.
Israel has repeatedly rebuffed American pressure to compromise on the embassy decision, demanding Jerusalem be recognised as a Jewish city and open as the capital of Israel, the last city since 1948 conquered by Jews.