Biden faces growing bipartisan opposition over planned Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem – New York Post

President Biden faces growing and bipartisan opposition to his plan to reopen a US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The consulate was shuttered in 2019 by former President Trump after the US embassy in Israel was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Biden vowed to reopen the consulate in order to appease progressives.

The old consulate building on Gerson Agron Street is just a few miles from the relocated US embassy.

But pro-Israel lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are balking.

“Any new diplomatic facility must be agreed to by Israel. The U.S. has never opened a diplomatic office without the approval of the host government, and to do so in Israel would create a double standard,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) warned in a statement this week.

He joined Rep. Juan Vargas (D-California), who has also urged Biden to pump the brakes unless Israel gave the green light for an American consulate to Palestine on its land.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer
Rep. Josh Gottheimer believes opening a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem without Israel’s permission would create a double standard.
Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA

For Israel, the issue is totally non-negotiable, and any agreement for a consulate would likely bring down the country’s fragile ruling coalition, insiders say.

“I personally oppose the reopening of an American consulate in Jerusalem because it turns it into discussions of sovereignty. … Jerusalem is under Israeli sovereignty,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told The Post.

Lapid and others have said it would be more appropriate for the US to open their Palestinian consulate in the West Bank and have suggested Ramallah as one possible option.

U.S. Consulate Building in Jerusalem.
Israel is opposed to a consulate in Jerusalem, believing it opens questions of sovereignty.
AP

The Palestinians, for their part, have rejected anything short of a US consulate in Jerusalem.

“East Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the occupied Palestinian territory and is the capital of the state of Palestine,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry has said.

Israel has taken its opposition well beyond closed door meetings with Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with top officials from the country urging US Jews to activate over the issue.

Earlier this month during a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told the attendees that it “definitely be very helpful and important for U.S. Jewish organizations to issue public statements opposing the consulate,” according to a summary of her remarks released by Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein.

Biden also faces blanket opposition from Republicans who have rallied behind Israel and say a US consulate to the Palestinians in the Israeli capital would also violate the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act — which Biden voted for while he was a US Senator.

“President Biden must immediately abandon any plans to open this consulate and reaffirm America’s unambiguous support of an undivided Israeli capital in Jerusalem,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), the chair of the House GOP Conference, told The Post.

On Wednesday Stefanik, joined by more than 100 of her House colleagues, introduced the Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021 which would “Prohibit the use of funds for any diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the United States Embassy to Israel.”

Reps for the State Department did not respond to request for comment.

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Biden faces growing bipartisan opposition over planned Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem – New York Post

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