Consulate Reopening in Yerushalayim Delayed Until After Elections

YERUSHALAYIM -
The United States consulate building in Yerushalayim, March 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The U.S. has decided to delay the reopening of its consulate in Yerushalayim, the State Department’s former address for Palestinian matters, until after the Israeli elections on March 23, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the issue.

Although President Biden committed during the 2020 campaign to reopen the consulate, as a part of his plan to reengage with the Palestinians, officials are saying that postponement was necessary in order to avoid political complications that might arise by doing it during the election campaign. It also requires Israeli approval.

The consulate served for 25 years as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians before being shut down by the Trump administration and merged into the new U.S. Embassy in Yerushalayim in 2019.

Within the State Department, there was some resistance to the change, given the major efforts that went into the 2019 embassy move. However, the decision was made on senior policymaking level, and now the question is only when and where.

According to the report, the consulate will either resume operations in its previous location on Agron Street in the western part of the capital; or it will relocate to east Yerushalayim.

The latter option would be frought with political overtones, however, since it would be interpreted as tacit U.S. recognition that the Palestinian capital should be in east Yerushalyim, which Israel opposes.