Republicans introduce resolution repudiating US consulate in Jerusalem

Secretary of State to raise consulate issue with Israel during upcoming visit.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and 11 other Republican Senators introduced a resolution repudiating the Biden administration’s efforts to open a consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

The non-binding resolution carries no legal weight, but its passage would express “the sense of Congress.” It asserts that the U.S. “should be represented by a single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.”

Meanwhile, a State Dept. official confirmed to reporters on Thursday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken intends to raise the issue in talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials next week. Blinken is scheduled to arrive in Israel on March 26. The Secretary of State is also due to visit Morocco and Algeria.

The bulk of Blinken’s talks in Jerusalem will focus on the Iranian nuclear deal, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In 2018, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. embassy there. Consular services for Israelis and Palestinians were shifted to the embassy. U.S. ties with the PA were effectively downgraded as the consulate’s Palestinian Affairs Unit was folded into the embassy.

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The Biden administration and the Democratic party see the consulate as a key step in rebooting U.S.-Palestinian relations.

Critics say that opening a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem infringes on Israeli sovereignty, re-divides Jerusalem and rewards Palestinian intransigence.

In a further complication, the consulate building is located in downtown Jerusalem, in the western half of the city.

U.S Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon conceded to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in October that the U.S. would need Israel’s consent and diplomatic accreditation to reopen the building as a consulate.