US Merges Consulate with Embassy in Jerusalem

US Merges Consulate with Embassy in Jerusalem

Friday, 19 October, 2018 - 05:45
A worker is seen inside the new US embassy compound during preparations for its opening ceremony, in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Ramallah - Washington - Asharq Al-Awsat
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the US consulate, which was managing Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem, would be merged with the new embassy. The Palestinian Authority was quick to denounce the decision.
 
“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations… It does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip,” AFP quoted Pompeo as saying in a statement.
 
The decision comes in the context of a continuing deterioration of relations between the administration of US President Donald Trump and the Palestinian Authority since his decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this year.
 
“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 US Embassy Jerusalem,” Pompeo said.

He added the Trump administration was committed to a peace effort between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
The Palestinian Authority condemned the new US decision and described it as “a reward for Israel’s violations and crimes,” as stated by PLO Secretary Saeb Erekat.
 
“The Trump administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” he said.
 
Diplomatic relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority have been frozen since the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the end of 2017, and to transfer the US Embassy to it in May 2018.
 
The US government has announced the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, accusing Palestinian leaders of refusing to deal with the Trump administration. It also announced a halt to its financial aid to the Palestinians and its contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

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