Israeli officials say US should open consulate for Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid makes a statement during a photo op on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 prior to a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the Capitol.
Greg Nash

Israeli officials said that the United States should open its consulate for Palestinians in the West Bank instead of in Jerusalem where the U.S.’s embassy to Israel resides.

“If they (the United States) want to open a consulate in Ramallah, we have no problem with that,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Saturday, speaking of the city located in the West Bank, according to Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told journalists that “there is no place for a U.S. consulate which serves the Palestinians in Jerusalem,” the news outlet noted.

The remarks from both Israeli officials follow an initiative that Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced earlier this year that the U.S. would reopen their consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“As I told the president, I’m here to underscore the commitment of the United States to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship built on mutual respect and also a shared conviction that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom opportunity and dignity,” Blinken said after he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Relations between the U.S. and Palestinians were downgraded during the Trump administration, which cut off nearly all monetary assistance to Palestine. 

The U.S.’s defacto consulate to Palestinians was closed in 2019 under former President Trump. At the time, any affairs relating to Palestinians were then handled through the U.S. Embassy in Israel. The U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018. 

“We will only accept a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state. That was what the U.S. administration had announced and had committed itself to doing,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Abbas said to Reuters regarding Lapid’s remarks. 

The Hill has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Israel and State Department for comment.

Tags Antony Blinken Donald Trump Israel Israeli-Palestinian conflict Naftali Bennett Palestine West Bank

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