USA places Palestinian mission under control of controversial Israel embassy

Frederick Owens
October 20, 2018

The United States will merge its consulate general, which serves Palestinians, with its new embassy in Israel into a single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, drawing a quick rebuke from Palestinians.

In a statement, Pompeo said the merger of the consulate into the embassy is meant to "achieve significant efficiencies and increase our effectiveness".

Once Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Abbas declared that the move had disqualified the United States as a peace mediator.

"In a statement released by Netanyahu's office, claimed that he spoke by phone with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morisona, and that Klose said that "considering the possibility of official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the Embassy", Reuters reports".

Trump's embassy move represented a significant break in USA policy on the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinians have argued it endangered a two-state peace solution.

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, alongside Friedman and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, has been working for months on a still-secret peace proposal, which Palestinians fear will be overly one-sided toward Israel.

Relations between the sides have been tense since President Donald Trump made a decision to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising the city as Israel's capital despite its status being disputed by the worldwide community and Palestinian claims that East Jerusalem should be the capital of their own state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.

"The PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the USA government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated at the time.

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"Now, he is cutting the last connection he is said to have with the Palestinian people".

Australia, the U.S. and Israel were the only three countries to formally vote against Palestine heading a group of 77 developing nations at the UN. "This decision has nothing to do with peace".

"For the government to champion such a move ... would reaffirm your strong commitment to the State of Israel, its sovereignty, its democracy and the values we share".

Trump, however, has offered confused and mixed messaging on the issue, saying Jerusalem is now "off the table" for any peace negotiations after he recognised the holy city as Israel's capital.

"The Trump Administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution", he added in a statement. In January, it slashed, and then ultimately ended, USA funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees as it also did with the vast majority of bilateral assistance to the Palestinians.

Pompeo denied the decision represented a shift in relations between Washington and the Palestinians, but it came after a series of moves, including shuttering the Palestinian mission in Washington, that have angered them.

He said the U.S. has effectively killed the two-state solution that envisioned an independent Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel.

The candidate contesting the by-election for Morrison's Liberal Party, Dave Sharma, is a former Australian ambassador to Israel who was credited with the idea to relocate the embassy. In contrast, the consul general running the Jerusalem consulate historically had his or her own chief of mission authority.

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