Sunday September 19, 2021

US waiting until Israeli budget passes to reopen consulate in Jerusalem: report

July 24, 2021

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration has reportedly decided to wait to reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem until the new Israeli government passes a budget, according to media.

The new budget will likely be passed sometime in November, and Israeli, US and Palestinian sources told media that the United States government has decided to wait until then to reopen its consulate.

The move from the US appears to acquiesce to the Israeli government’s request that was made last month. The report comes after a new Israeli government was sworn in in June, ending former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s 12-year term in office. Netanyahu was succeeded by right-wing Israeli politician Naftali Bennett, who hailed the change in government as the “beginning of a new day.” A great deal of importance rests on passing a budget by Nov. 4, as failure will mean the fall of the new government while success will likely secure another year.

Netanyahu is currently attempting to use the consulate’s reopening as a means of creating friction between the Yamina and Yesh Atid parties that came together in an agreement to form a new government without him, Axios reported. The former prime minster claimed that agreeing to the US government’s plan to reopen the consulate would be accepting “a division of Jerusalem.”

The consulate in Jerusalem had handled relations with Palestinians before it was shut down by former President Trump in 2019, moving United States-Palestinian outreach to the US Embassy to Israel. At the time, the Trump administration said this move was made to “increase the efficiency and effectiveness” of US diplomatic missions.

In May, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to reopen the consulate in an effort to restore ties with Palestinians that had been dropped when it was closed.

“As I told the president, I’m here to underscore the commitment of the US to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship built on mutual respect and also a shared conviction that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity,” Blinken said at the time.