US shelves Palestinian consulate plans

Despite bombastic promises from Biden, the U.S. has no plans to reopen de facto consulate for Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The United States has walked back its promise to reopen a de facto consulate for Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, much to the chagrin of embattled Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, according to a report from Arabic language daily Al Quds on Thursday.

President Joe Biden pledged to reopen the consulate, which was closed by former president Donald Trump in 2018, and that promise was reiterated to Abbas by Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this year.

The move by the Biden administration would have been largely symbolic, representing a shift towards neutrality on the Arab-Israeli conflict after the staunchly pro-Israel Trump years, which saw the American embassy moved to Jerusalem and official recognition of the Golan Heights.

Trump was also a major broker of the historic Abraham Accords agreements, which created diplomatic relations between Israel and several Muslim, Arab countries.

“We want the American Consulate to constitute the seed of a U.S. embassy in the State of Palestine,” PA prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said in a September post on Facebook.

But according to Al Quds, the U.S. has quietly shelved plans to reopen the consulate due to opposition from Israel’s current ruling coalition and the AIPAC lobby.

“This move is not surprising as in recent months many indications have accumulated regarding the lukewarm American policy on the Palestinian issue,” said a senior PA official who spoke to TPS.

The source said American diplomatic officials told the PA that Biden has no strategy whatsoever for managing the Arab-Israel conflict and is not interested in wading into the morass any further, aside from providing financial support to the Palestinian economy and aid groups such as UNRWA.

The U.S. is already expecting major clashes with Israel over strategy to mitigate the Iranian nuclear threat, the source said, and the Biden administration wants to choose its battles carefully.

The Americans feel that the diplomatic headache caused by reopening the consulate is not worth it, said the source.

On Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told Al Ayam that the Biden administration is “happy with our relationship with the Palestinian Authority” and is “ready for regular high-level visits. We are trying to return to the joint discussions together and to do what we can to support the Palestinian people. ”

However, while she promised the U.S. was still planning to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem, she did not give a timeframe or date on which the reopening would happen.