The United States State Department announced that it would be closing its Jerusalem consulate and transfer its responsibilities to its newly-established embassy in the city, in order to ensure that the U.S. speaks “with one voice,” a senior administration told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.
The official said that streamlining the operations of the two diplomatic missions would help the administration implement its peace plan and would avoid the problem of having them give “mixed messages” to the Israelis and Palestinians.
In his statement announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the administration plans “to achieve significant efficiencies and increase our effectiveness” through the merger.
“We will continue to conduct a 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 inside U.S. Embassy Jerusalem,” Pompeo said.
The secretary reiterated that the move of the consulate into the embassy did not signal a change in policy, saying, “United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders.” Those will be left to “final status negotiations between the parties.”
Pompeo also said that the administration remained committed to “achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians.” He added that the administration looked forward to having a “continued partnership,” with the Palestinian people, and “we hope in the future, with the Palestinian leadership.”
The Palestinian Authority has been boycotting any talks with the U.S. since President Donald Trump announced that he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital late last year.
“This decision has nothing to do with ‘efficiency’ and a lot to do with pleasing an ideological US team that is willing to disband the foundations of US Foreign Policy, and of the international system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes,” Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said.
The reorganization of the U.S. diplomatic infrastructure would give U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman “a role in crafting the White House effort to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” the Post reported. No previous U.S. ambassador has been involved in diplomacy with the Palestinians.
Earlier this week, Friedman attended a conference to promote more business ties between Israelis and Palestinians.
[Photo: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem / WikiCommons ]