Republican senators attempt to block Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem

Thirty-five Republican senators propose a bill to protect the Jerusalem Embassy Act, saying a consulate subverts that law.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Thirty-five Republican senators have signed onto a proposed bill to block the Biden administration from reopening a consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians.

Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee introduced the legislation by saying in a statement, “President Biden continues to push forward his inflammatory plan to establish a second mission in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem—one for the Israelis and a second one for the Palestinians—despite the fact that this plan violates the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and is completely opposed by the Government of Israel.”

The Jerusalem Embassy Act recognized Jerusalem as a united city and accepted Israel’s designation of it as the country’s capital, which is its right under international law. Once the American embassy was moved to Jerusalem in 2018, all diplomatic functions were properly merged under the American ambassador’s authority. The Senators believe that reopening a consulate to serve again as an independent diplomatic conduit to the Palestinian Authority would subvert the original law.

Called The Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021, the bill tries to close any loophole by stating that the U.S. should not “reopen, open or otherwise maintain a United States Embassy, Consulate General, Legation, Consular Office or any other diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the United States Embassy to the State of Israel.”

It would also disallow any funding of such a facility unless it was subsumed under the authority of the embassy.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida strongly backed the bill.

“It is outrageous that the Biden Administration continues to voice support for reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, which calls into question its status as Israel’s capital,” he said. “In no other country does the United States operate both an embassy and a separate consulate in the same city. This would be a shameful violation of U.S. law and an affront to our Israeli allies. I’m proud to support this crucial piece of legislation, which would ensure that Jerusalem remains Israel’s united and historic capital.”

After his meeting with President Joe Biden in August, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he had told him that Israel would not allow a consulate to open, despite it being one of Biden’s campaign promises. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has also said it is “a bad idea.”

In his statement, Hagerty added that the administration was focusing on the wrong subject.

“It is regrettable that the Biden administration insists on making moves that divide the United States and Israel when our two nations should be laser-focused on stopping Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime from going nuclear, on countering growing threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Iran-backed terrorist groups, and on strengthening and expanding the historic Abraham Accords that truly have increased peace in the Middle East.”

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The chances of the bill passing into law are low if senators vote strictly according to party affiliation, as the body is currently equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. In case of a tie, the vice president casts the deciding vote.