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Israel says will not let US reopen al-Quds consulate for Palestinians

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett give a joint press conference in al-Quds on November 6, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli regime has publicly expressed its opposition to a plan by the United States to reopen a consulate for Palestinians in occupied al-Quds, suggesting the West Bank city of Ramallah as host to the diplomatic mission, drawing an immediate rejection from the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

“There is no place for an American consulate that serves the Palestinians in Jerusalem (al-Quds),” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Saturday.

This had been conveyed to Washington “both by myself and by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid,” Bennett added.

The administration of former US President Donald Trump signaled support for Israel’s claim on al-Quds as its “capital” by moving the American embassy there from Tel Aviv.

It also shuttered the US consulate in al-Quds, which had served as a de facto embassy for the Palestinians, saying it was no longer needed because the new embassy had taken over its functions.

Moving the US embassy to al-Quds was among several US acts against Palestinians, who want East al-Quds as the capital of their future state.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has pledged to restore ties with the Palestinians and reopen the al-Quds consulate.

Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s intention to proceed with the plan.

“As I said in May, we’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians,” he said during a press conference alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Washington.

On Saturday, Bennett and Lapid presented a united front in their opposition to the United States’ reopening of its al-Quds consulate for the Palestinians.

“We are expressing our position consistently, quietly and without drama, and I hope it is understood,” said Bennett, speaking to the media after the approval of the Israeli budget for 2021-2022.

Lapid also echoed Bennett’s position, saying that “if the Americans want to open a consulate in Ramallah we have no problem with that.”

PA: US consulate must be in al-Quds

In response, the spokesman of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Lapid’s comments.

“We will only accept a US consulate in Jerusalem (al-Quds), the capital of the Palestinian state. That was what the US administration had announced and had committed itself to doing,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Reuters.

The PA’s Foreign Ministry also said the Israeli stance is a “critical test” for the Biden administration.

The statements were of particular concern because they came following the approval of the Israeli budget, “meaning that the credibility of the positions of the US administration and the international community is being tested,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Sunday.

“It is high time for the international community to take the lead in respecting its obligations and assume its legal and moral responsibilities towards the [Israeli] occupation and settlements, and to stop its miserable trust the Israeli government,” the ministry said, according to Palestinian media.

It added that Bennet’s remarks “officially confirm that the Israeli government is a government of settlements and settlers that is trying to preserve itself at the expense of the Palestinian rights.”

East al-Quds was occupied by Israel in 1967 and effectively annexed three years later.

Israel lays claim to the entire al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, adopted on August 20, 1980, prohibits countries from establishing diplomatic missions in al-Quds.

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