US Consulate in Jerusalem to merge with embassy

US Consulate in Jerusalem to merge with embassy

The development follows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's October 18, 2018, announcement that it would merge the consulate, which provided diplomatic representation to the Palestinians, with the US Embassy in Jerusalem, creating "a single diplomatic mission".

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".

The consulate had primarily served the capital's Palestinians and was the main channel of communication over the years between the USA administration and the Palestinian leadership.

Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner speaks on stage as U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on during the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018 in Israel.

The closure of the consulate general means that Palestinian affairs will come under the direction of US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has been a supporter of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Commission to Support Jerusalem and the Holy Sites, told Arab News that the lowering of American diplomatic representation to Palestine was a continuation of discriminatory United States policy.

"Though the United States said the merger was meant for bureaucratic efficiency, Malaysia views that it is nothing more than a smokescreen trying to camouflage what is essentially opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem", it said in the statement.

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Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Palestinian leaders froze contact with the White House after Trump's 2017 decision recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and castigated the consulate closure. Closing the Consulate is a setback for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and a major error by this Administration. Why close the mission to the Palestinians?

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

ESTRIN: That's right. The Palestinians have cut off ties with the USA after the embassy move.

Media outlets in Israel said two of the alleged attackers on Monday were killed, while the Israeli military said another was slightly wounded.

Attacks have continued as the Israeli occupation continues, settlement enterprise continues to expand, and US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Worldwide law continues to view East Jerusalem, along with the entire West Bank, as "occupied territory" and considers all Jewish settlement construction there to be illegal.