U.S. Palestinian Mission to Merge With Israel Embassy in March

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

The United States Consulate General in Yerushalayim, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new U.S. Embassy to Israel in March, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The decision to create a single diplomatic mission was announced last October by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who did not say at the time when this would take place.

“The merger of the consulate and the embassy will take place on March 4th or 5th, at which point the position of the consul-general will end, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the date has not been announced yet by Washington.

At the time of Pompeo’s announcement, senior Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat denounced the decision to eliminate the consulate as the latest evidence the Trump administration is working with Israel to impose a “Greater Israel” rather than a two-state solution.

Asked on Tuesday about the merger, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters that nothing had changed from their point of view.

“Contacts at the political level with the American administration have been cut off and will remain so unless the American administration changes its positions on Jerusalem and the refugees,” said Abu Rudeineh.

However, he said, there were still “contacts at the security level to fight terrorism.”