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Senate Republicans urge Biden administration to keep Palestinian diplomatic missions closed

Senate Republicans urge Biden administration to keep Palestinian diplomatic missions closed
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Republicans is calling on the Biden administration to “reconsider” its plans to jump-start two Palestinian diplomatic missions, less than one month after Israel and Palestinian were engaged in 11 days of air strikes and rocket attacks.

A group of 17 GOP senators, led by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Rising violent crime poses new challenge for White House MORE (Fla.), penned a letter to President BidenJoe BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE on Tuesday urging his administration against reopening the Consulate General in Jerusalem, which oversees relations with the Palestinians, or restarting the D.C.-based Mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPutin accuses US of organizing 2014 Ukraine coup China has declared information warfare against America — Biden must respond vigorously Envoy says US in talks to remove foreign forces in Libya ahead of elections MORE in May announced that the administration plans to reopen the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, after it was merged with the U.S. Embassy in Israel under the Trump administration.

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Additionally, Biden in January pledged to work to reopen the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission in D.C., after it was closed by the Trump administration in 2018, according to Reuters.

The letter said the plans to reopen both missions are “deeply concerning” and “particularly misguided,” given the recent violence between Israel and Hamas.

The lawmakers argued that reopening the Consulate General in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, would “wrongly indicate that the U.S. supports dividing the capital city of our close ally,” and would “reward the Palestinian leadership’s continued hostility toward Israel.”

They also said they were “concerned” with reports that the administration is considering reopening the PLO mission.

The group said they are opposed to actions by the administration that would aid Palestinian leadership or Hamas “for their abhorrent support of violence and terrorism.”

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“While we are committed to working with you on constructive ways to engage with the Palestinian people, we oppose any efforts by your administration to provide rewards and incentives to the Palestinian leadership or Hamas for their abhorrent support of violence and terrorism, their efforts to press the [Internationl Criminal Court] ICC to illegitimately investigate Israel, and other efforts to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel,” the senators wrote.

They said the Palestinian people will “continue to suffer” if the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or other terrorist groups are not “held accountable for their actions,” adding that “there will be no prospects for a long term and peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Clashes between Israel and Hamas broke out last month, which became the most brutal violence between the two sides since 2014.

At least a dozen people, including two children, were killed in Israel. At least 232 people were killed in the Gaza Strip, including 65 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The two sides agreed to a cease-fire last month, brokered by Egypt, capping off the 11 days of violence.