United States consulate general in Jerusalem merges with embassy

Posted March 11, 2019

"On March 4, 2019, USA consulate general Jerusalem will merge into USA embassy Jerusalem to form a single diplomatic mission", it said in a statement.

Moreover, and after the Trump administration spared no effort to punish the Palestinian Authority (PA) for sharply criticising the decision by the U.S. president to recognise occupied East Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in clear violation of all global principles and agreements, it is very hard to imagine that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will react positively to any new USA proposals.

The Trump administration has cited the reluctance of Palestinian leaders to enter peace negotiations with Israel as the reason for such punitive measures, although the United States has yet to present its much-anticipated but still mysterious "Deal of the Century" to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The consulate, according to Fox News, had served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinian Arabs; the duties handled by the consulate will now be transferred to the embassy.

It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector - where key holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews are located - as the capital of their future state.

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Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat described the move as being "the final nail in the coffin" for the Trump administration's efforts at a peace process.

But what is drawing a lot of attention here is that the top US diplomat now in charge of Palestinian diplomacy is the ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime supporter of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is occupied territory.

We have all heard a lot about the U.S. Embassy because it moved to Jerusalem a year ago, and that was big news.

What had functioned as the U.S. mission to the Palestinians since the 1990s is now officially known as the Palestinian Affairs Unit.

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The announcement from the State Department came early Monday in Jerusalem, the merger effective that day.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman officially shuttered the consulate by thanking its Consul General Karen Sasahara for her "service and professionalism" and wishing her well representing America in her next posting. The Palestinians in turn cut off most ties with the administration.

Israeli politics have moved firmly to the right in recent years, with much of the population having grown tired of calls for a two-state solution and unwilling to make signficant compromises in favour of the Palestinians. The State Department official could not confirm reports that the consul general's residence in Jerusalem would eventually become the home for the US ambassador as part of the embassy's move to the city, which began last May. And we've seen ties between the USA and Palestinians deteriorate.

ESTRIN: This is the Trump administration continuing to change the symmetry in how it deals with the Israelis and Palestinians.

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