A letter calling for President Joe Biden not to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has gathered the support of up to 200 Republican members of Congress.
“We write today to express our strong opposition to your administration’s proposal to reopen the U.S. consulate general in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, that would provide separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians,” the House Republicans wrote and signed in the letter released on Monday, Nov. 1.
“Reopening the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem would be inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by (Public Law 104–45) promoting division of Jerusalem,” they said. “This would be unacceptable, shameful, and wrong.”
The lawmaker argued that Biden during his time in the Senate supported U.S. policy that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected. … Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
If the Biden administration moves ahead with its plan, the lawmakers warned that it “would create a misguided situation in which the U.S. would essentially have two separate diplomatic missions in Israel’s capital, including the U.S. Embassy to Israel along with the consulate general for outreach to the Palestinians, whose government is based in Ramallah.”
In late 2017, former President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which broke decades of U.S. foreign policy and set in motion a series of events: The U.S. Embassy in Israel was moved from Tel Aviv (where nearly all embassies are located) to Jerusalem in 2018, and the consulate there that had long handled Palestinian affairs was merged into the new embassy.
In the letter, the lawmakers claimed that the Trump Administration had fixed the ill-advised situation with the merger but maintained outreach to the Palestinians by establishing the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) within the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
”Reopening the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem would also reward and turn a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority engaging in the real obstacles to peace, such as refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State,” the Republicans said.
According to The Washington Post, an Israeli minister has said that “no way” the country would agree to have the United States reopen its consulate dedicated to Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem.
Noting the strong opposition within the Israeli government, the Republican lawmakers wrote: “We urge you to respect our close ally Israel’s opposition to the reopening of the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem, especially since Israel’s cooperation is essential.”
The Biden administration is looking to reopen the consulate. Still, given the objections of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his several cabinet ministers, it is not clear when Biden will move ahead with the plan.