US downgrades Palestinian mission with Jerusalem Consulate closure

US downgrades Palestinian mission with Jerusalem Consulate closure
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The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem was permanently closed over the weekend, marking the demotion of Washington's de-facto embassy to the Palestinians, according to The Associated Press. 

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The outreach to the Palestinians will now be conducted through the U.S. Embassy to Israel, which was moved last year to Jerusalem.

The now-shuttered consulate, the closure of which was announced by the State Department early Monday morning Israeli time, previously served for years as a main outpost for U.S.-Palestinian relations.

“This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told the AP in a statement. “It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.”

The closure of the consulate was expected for months after Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Gabbard warns Trump: Acting like 'Saudi Arabia's b---- is not "America First"' Trump ramps up rhetoric on Iran MORE made the announcement last October.

The decision follows the Trump administration’s controversial choice to move its official embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from its previous location in Tel Aviv.

The United States also recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital as part of the move, something that further irritated Palestinian officials.