U.S. Shutters Consulate in Jerusalem as Embassy Fills Role

Benny Gantz former Israeli military chief of staff and presidential candidate speaks during an electoral campaign gathering on 19 February 2019 in Tel Aviv

US Shutters Its Consulate in Jerusalem, Angering Palestinians

The U.S. announced Sunday it was shuttering its consulate in Jerusalem and merging it with its embassy, effectively demoting the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians.

Last May, the Trump administration drew global condemnation when it moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem-a city that Palestinians want as part of a future state.

The Administration argued that they undertook these measures because Palestinian leaders have been hesitant to take part in peace negotiations with Israel.

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

The U.S. will close its consulate in Jerusalem and merged it with the controversial embassy which opened a year ago.

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Haaretz noted that the Jerusalem consulate's previous work of submitting regular reports to the United States administration about construction and other developments in West Bank settlements will now also be overseen by Friedman.

However, the unit will be housed in the consulate building on Agron Street, which is situated between Jerusalem's city center and the Old City, and not in the embassy, located in the Arnona neighborhood, said a USA statement. They say Jerusalem's status should be determined by peace talks.

A senior Palestinian official claimed the initial incident was likely an accident, with the auto colliding into an Israeli military vehicle as it rounded a bend.

This step follows Secretary Pompeo's October 18, 2018 announcement that the two missions and teams would be combined.

Issa said the real objective behind the U.S. decision was to obliterate the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Closing the Consulate is a setback for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and a major error by this Administration.

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Last fall, it shut down the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the move "the final nail in the coffin" for the US role in peacemaking.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, announced last month that the USA would unveil the deal after Israeli elections in April.

"The administration remains fully committed to efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians".

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 28: Young members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) pause in a park near the Old City on November 28, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel.

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Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and has occupied the territory since, further consolidating its grip on the area by building illegal settlements that are now home to hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers.

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