President Biden faces growing and twofold opposition to his plan to reopen a U.S. consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The consulate was closed in 2019 by former President Trump after the US embassy in Israel was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Biden promised to reopen the consulate to appease progressives.
The old consulate building on Gerson Agron Street is only a few miles from the relocated U.S. Embassy.
But pro-Israel lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are failing.
“Any new diplomatic facility must be approved by Israel. The United States has never opened a diplomatic office without the approval of the host government, and doing so in Israel would create a double standard,” warned Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) in a statement this week. .
He joined the rep. Juan Vargas (D-California), who has also called on Biden to pump the brakes unless Israel gave the green light for a US consulate to Palestine on its land.
For Israel, the issue is completely untenable, and any agreement on a consulate is likely to overthrow the country’s fragile ruling coalition, insiders say.
“I am personally opposed to the reopening of a US consulate in Jerusalem because it makes for discussions about sovereignty. “Jerusalem is under Israeli sovereignty,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told The Post.
Lapid and others have said it would be more appropriate for the United States to open their Palestinian consulate in the West Bank and have suggested Ramallah as a possible option.
The Palestinians, for their part, have rejected anything other than a US consulate in Jerusalem.
“East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and is the capital of the State of Palestine,” the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Israel has taken its opposition far beyond closed-door meetings with Biden and Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, with top officials from the country urging American Jews to activate over the issue.
Earlier this month, during a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told attendees that “it would certainly be very helpful and important for U.S. Jewish organizations to issue public statements opposing the consulate,” according to a summary of her remarks published by the Zionist Organization of America’s president, Mort Klein.
Biden also faces general opposition from Republicans who have rallied behind Israel, saying a U.S. consulate for the Palestinians in the Israeli capital would also violate the 1995 law on the Jerusalem embassy – which Biden voted for while serving as a U.S. senator.
“President Biden must immediately abandon any plan to open this consulate and reaffirm America’s unequivocal support for an undivided Israeli capital in Jerusalem,” the rep said. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), Chair of the House of Representatives GOP Conference, to The Post.
On Wednesday, Stefanik, along with more than 100 of her housemates, introduced the 2021 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021, which would “prohibit the use of funds for any diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the U.S. Embassy in Israel.”
Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to the request for comment.
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