US closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission

US Shutters Its Consulate in Jerusalem, Angering Palestinians

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

Pompeo said the USA would continue its "full range of reporting, outreach and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem", through a new Palestinian Affairs unit.

State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said the decision was driven by operational efficiency and there would be "complete continuity of USA diplomatic activity and consular services". "It does not signal a change of United States policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip", Palladino said on Sunday.

It reiterated support for the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders and said it would continue to oppose any action detrimental to peace efforts. Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson, for example, said that his appointment was "a distressing signal that the [Trump] administration will give the Israeli government a free hand to deepen its fundamentally undemocratic and abusive control over Palestinian land, resources, and rights".

The decision had been announced in October.

The US consulate in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new US Embassy to Israel on Monday, the State Department said, a planned merger that has angered Palestinian leadership.

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.

ESTRIN: Palestinian leaders are saying in a statement that the U.S.is symbolically denying the Palestinian people's right to establish their own state.




The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wisma Putra) in a statement today said the move, effective March 4, 2019 was the latest unfortunate step taken by the USA against Palestine and its people.

As the Post's Khaled Abu Toameh noted, Palestinian officials reacted angrily to the merger, calling it a sign of the USA administration's "bias" in favor of Israel and "hostility" toward the Palestinians.

For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged an global probe into Israeli "crimes" against Palestinians, accusing Israel of "a deliberate extrajudicial disgusting crime under false pretexts".

And the chief Palestinian negotiator is calling this the final nail in the coffin of the US role in peacemaking. "It is an act of political assault on Palestinian rights and identity, and a negation of the consulate's historic status and function, dating back almost 200 years".

The Trump Administration "is intent on leaving no room for doubt about its hostility towards the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights, as well as its abject disregard for worldwide law and its obligations under the law".

A report issued by Wadi Al-Hilwa Information Centre in Jerusalem found that Israeli occupation authorities had issued 133 deportation orders against Jerusalemites and worshippers, including officials, minors and females.

One Palestinian from the West Bank, who asked to remain anonymous, told Mondoweiss that he was forced to enter Jerusalem "illegally" in order to go to his United States visa appointment after not receiving an Israeli entry permit. It recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the embassy there.

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