by WorldTribune Staff, June 13, 2022
The Biden administration is moving forward with a plan to establish a new Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem that will act independently of the U.S. ambassador to Israel’s office, reports say.
The move sets the stage for Team Biden reversing Trump administration policy which recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The Israeli government strongly opposes the plan, saying that it could be understood as de facto approval by Team Biden of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and a unilateral move to implement that aspect of the Two-State Solution without the consent of the Israeli government, Israel 365 News reported on June 12.
“Israeli authorities proposed that the U.S. reopen the mission in Ramallah or Abu Dis, but the PA (Palestinian Authority) rejected these ideas,” the report said.
The planned U.S. consulate would act as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, a move that violates international law, David Milstein, a special assistant to former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“Opening a diplomatic office to the Palestinians in Jerusalem after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, making it clear Jerusalem is part of Israel, has the same disastrous consequences as opening a formal consulate,” Milstein told the Free Beacon. “This decision is a blatant effort to unravel the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and circumvent Israel’s clear opposition to a formal consulate, especially since the Biden administration admits this step is part of its plan to open a consulate still.”
The purpose behind Team Biden’s move “is to walk back the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, erode Israel’s sovereignty over its capital city, and signal support for dividing Jerusalem. It is outrageous and shameful,” Milstein said. “Members of Congress should use every tool at their disposal to block implementation of this decision.”
The Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed into law by the U.S. Congress in October 1995, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city, setting aside funds for the relocation of the embassy in Israel to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 1999. The law allowed the president to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law and reissue the waiver every six months on “national security” grounds. Every president did so until President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
The Free Beacon quoted Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said the State Department is circumventing the Israeli government to create “an unofficial U.S. consulate” to the Palestinians, in violation of the law.
“I unequivocally oppose this plan for what appears to be a new unofficial U.S. diplomatic mission in Israel’s capital,” Hagerty said. “This plan is inconsistent with the full and faithful implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and suggests that the administration is once again trying to undermine America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital.”
Jason Greenblatt, White House envoy to the Middle East under Trump, slammed the move.
“By trying to appease the Palestinian leadership with this empty gesture, we hurt our critical ally Israel, and we hurt the United States—we hurt our national security, our diplomatic efforts, and we waste precious U.S. taxpayer money,” he said.