US pressuring Israel to open Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem

US administration officials have worked to delay a bill proposed by Knesset member Nir Barkat (Likud) which; if passed into law; would essentially prevent the reopening of a de facto US embassy to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The bill seeks to ban any country from establishing a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem that is not a mission to Israel. The bill further specifies that any mission established to provide consular services specifically to Jerusalem residents will require special permission from the Israeli government.

Barkat; who in July met with several Republican and Democratic congressmen and senators in Washington to explain the dangers of such a move; told Israel Hayom: “The act of establishing a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem means recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

“The administration’s consent on this matter is disastrous. I intend to aggressively fight this dangerous decision. It is a red line that cannot be crossed. Jerusalem will remain the capital of unified Jerusalem for all eternity.”

As reported by Israel Hayom in late July; the Biden administration wants the current Israeli coalition to remain intact and; as a result; isn’t likely to challenge it or pose firm demands; such as reopening a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem; until it passes the national budget.

“Officials in the administration understand that passing the budget is the definitive test for the government’s survivability. Hence; until it is passed; they don’t intend to cause any shockwaves that could jeopardize it;” a US official told Israel Hayom.

The American desire to prevent opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu from returning to power; the official added; along with the fact that the present coalition includes left-wing parties and the Arab Ra’am Party; are among the reasons for the Biden administration’s favorable approach.

As a reminder; during a visit to Israel in May; US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the plans to reopen the Jerusalem consulate — which for years served as the de facto embassy to the Palestinians.

The previous U.S. administration closed the consulate in March 2019; moving it under the US Embassy in the capital. The closure of the consulate was a harsh blow to the Palestinians and diminished the Palestinian Authority’s standing in Washington.

During his election campaign; Biden vowed to reopen the consulate; but such a move appears to be in violation of Israeli; American and international law.

Another legal obstacle to the move is the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995; passed overwhelmingly by the US House and Senate; which recognized united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and states that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city.”

Meanwhile; the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961; which defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries; stipulates that the “guest state may not; without the prior express consent of the receiving state; establish offices forming part of the mission in localities other than those in which the mission itself is established.”