A report in the Washington Free Beacon cited sources in the State Department confirming that the Biden administration will move forward with establishing a new Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem that will act independently of the US ambassador to Israel’s office there. This move goes against the expressed wishes of the Israeli government. Still, the Biden State Department is going even further, opening an official Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem wholly independent of the US embassy in Israel. This consulate will act as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, a move that violates international law.
“By establishing an office dedicated to the Palestinian government in the city, the administration is reopening the possibility of allowing that government to assume control of portions of the city,” The Free Beacon wrote, quoting David Milstein. He served as special assistant to former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
“Opening a diplomatic office to the Palestinians in Jerusalem after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, making it clear Jerusalem is part of Israel, has the same disastrous consequences as opening a formal consulate,” Milstein told the Free Beacon. “This decision is a blatant effort to unravel the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and circumvent Israel’s clear opposition to a formal consulate, especially since the Biden administration admits this step is part of its plan to open a consulate still.”
The Israeli government strongly opposes the plan saying that it could be understood as de facto approval of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and a unilateral move by the Biden administration to implement that aspect of the Two-State Solution without the consent of the Israeli government. Israeli authorities proposed that the US reopen the mission in Ramallah or Abu Dis, but the PA rejected these ideas.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed into law by Congress in October 1995. The Act recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city, setting aside funds for the relocation of the embassy in Israel from to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 1999. The law allowed the President to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law and reissue the waiver every six months on “national security” grounds. Every president did so until President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
The Free Beacon quoted Sen. Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said the State Department is circumventing the Israeli government to create “an unofficial U.S. consulate” to the Palestinians, in violation of the law.
“I unequivocally oppose this plan for what appears to be a new unofficial U.S. diplomatic mission in Israel’s capital,” Hagerty said. “This plan is inc…