Israel rejects US mission for Palestinians in Jerusalem

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has rejected the reopening of the main US diplomatic mission for the Palestinians in Jerusalem, noting that there is no space for such an office in the disputed city.

The Donald Trump administration closed the US consulate in Jerusalem, an office that for years functioned as an embassy to the Palestinians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised to reopen it, a decision that Israel would interpret as a challenge to its sovereignty over the city. The reopening could help mend American ties with fractured Palestinians like Trump.

When asked about the consulate at a conference, Bennett reiterated the Israeli position on Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon.

“There is no room for another American consulate in Jerusalem,” he said. “Jerusalem is the capital of a state and it is the state of Israel.” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested that the consulate could be opened in the Palestinian administrative center in Ramallah, West Bank instead. The Palestinians would reject that idea because it would undermine their claims to Jerusalem.

Israel views Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed, as the capital of the state they want to form.

The consulate has become yet another test between the Bennett and Biden administrations, which have returned to a more traditional foreign policy toward Israel and the Palestinians after the Trump White House largely sided with Israel on related issues. with the conflict.

Former President Trump scaled back the consulate’s operations and placed them under the command of his ambassador to Israel when he moved the US embassy from Tel Aviva to the holy city in 2018. That move outraged Palestinians and led them to sever most ties. formalities with the Trump administration.

Blinken has not given a closed date for the reopening, and US officials have implied that the Israeli resistance could cripple the plan.

For his part, Palestinian official Wassel abu Yussef said Bennett’s rejection reinforces the “occupation policy” and poses a challenge to the Biden government to fulfill its promise.

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