President Biden is reportedly planning to unilaterally impose the opening of a U.S. consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem despite the Israeli government’s opposition, with some members of Israel’s Foreign Ministry calling the move an “introduction to the division of Jerusalem.”
Former Foreign Ministry Director-General Dr. Dore Gold, asked by Israel Hayom in their comprehensive report if the opening of an American consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem was a move that annuls American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, pointed out, “It could lead there or it could pave the way. One has to remember that there is the Vienna Convention of 1963 which both Israel and the United States are signatories to, and according to which the agreement of the host state is required to open a consulate. To do so unilaterally without Israel’s agreement would be breaking the rules.”
“The building housed the US consulate in Jerusalem until about two years ago when it was closed by President Donald Trump; it functioned for many years as the American representative office to east Jerusalem and the territories of the Palestinian Authority and Gaza and was subject to the auspices of the US State Department and not to the embassy in Tel Aviv,” Israel Hayom noted.
The Jerusalem Post noted that the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister views the opening of the consulate as tacit recognition that Jerusalem is divided:
American law is quite clear. The US “Jerusalem Embassy Act” repeatedly stresses the unity and indivisibility of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “In 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunited during the conflict known as the Six-Day War … Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel… Jerusalem should remain an undivided city… recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
The PA sees opening the Consulate in Jerusalem as a rejection of all these statutes of American law. Explaining the international implications of the US reopening the Consulate in Jerusalem, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh stated that the move is “important” for Palestinians because “the message from this [Biden] administration is that Jerusalem is not one [united Israeli] city and that the American administration does not recognize the annexation of Arab Jerusalem by the Israeli side. We want the American Consulate to constitute the seed of a US embassy in the State of Palestine.”
Israel Hayom recalled, “In January, almost immediately after the Biden administration moved in, the title of the U.S. ambassador in Israel was changed on the embassy’s Twitter page from ‘U.S. Ambassador to Israel’ to ‘U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.’ Public criticism led to a rapid turnabout and a return to the old title, but the trend was clear for all to see.”
Former Jerusalem mayor Likud MK Nir Barkat told Israel Hayom:
Having two diplomatic delegations in one city means the division of Jerusalem. There is no other possible meaning. It is a finger in Israel’s eye. If the Americans take such a unilateral measure, it will not only be a violation of the Vienna Convention, but also an American message that the great United States is not capable of respecting its most loyal partners. It is liable to have a very strong effect on relations with the Americans. …
There are no words to describe the size of the catastrophe if we do not act to prevent this. As soon as the United States unilaterally opens a consulate for the Palestinians, other countries could take similar measures, and then we will have lost the ability to stop such a process in the future.