US President Joe Biden has promised the Palestinians that American will re-open the consulate-general in Jerusalem to serve them, but Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid are saying not so fast!
"My position, which has been presented to the Americans by myself and by Foreign Minister Lapid is that there is no place for an American consulate that serves the Palestinians in Jerusalem," Bennett told reporters Saturday evening. "We have expressed our position (to the US) determinedly, quietly, without drama, and I hope it will be understood. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel alone."
Lapid, a centrist who has expressed an openness to a "two-state solution," backed up Bennett 100 percent. "Sovereignty of Jerusalem (belongs) to one country, the State of Israel…This is a principled stance of the State of Israel to the opening of a consulate in Jerusalem."
Lapid said that the location more than the idea of a consulate is the issue. The US government is welcome to open a consulate for the Palestinians in Ramallah, he offered.
Before former US President Donald Trump opened the US Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018, the Palestinians could obtain services and communicate with Washington, DC at a consulate office in East Jerusalem, and Israelis and US citizens were serviced at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. With the embassy move to Jerusalem, the services for Palestinians were merged with the regular duties of the embassy, and the consulate was closed.
The Biden administration has not made any efforts toward fulfilling his pledge yet, and Bennett and Lapid intend for it to stay that way. However, the prime minister insists that this is not a signal of a rift between the US and Israel.
"There is so much more that we agree upon with our American friends, than we disagree upon."