Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Palestinians slam 'ideological' decision to close US Jerusalem consulate

Palestinians slam 'ideological' decision to close US Jerusalem consulate

Angered by Trump's move, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas boycotted his administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an worldwide mechanism should be devised to replace the U.S. in the so-called peace process.

The US is to merge its consulate general in Jerusalem, which deals with Palestinian affairs, with its new embassy, the secretary of state says.

The United States announced Thursday it was merging its Consulate General in Jerusalem - which provided diplomatic representation to the Palestinians - with the US Embassy in Jerusalem, creating "a single diplomatic mission".

It would also leave the ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is reviled by Palestinians over his support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as the main interlocutor with the Palestinian leadership. "It does not signal a change of United States policy", Pompeo said in a statement.

"As the President proclaimed in December of past year, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders".

They have insisted the status of Jerusalem, which both the Israelis and Palestinians see as their capital, should be negotiated between the parties.

Closing the direct diplomatic channel to Palestinians in Jerusalem comes just one week after the PLO Mission in Washington DC shut down by an order from the Trump administration, and transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem last May.

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"Palestinians reject this arrangement", he said.

The decision has "a lot to do with pleasing an ideological USA team that is willing to disband the foundations of American foreign policy, and of the worldwide system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes", the Palestinians' chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

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Pro-Israel advocates hailed the decision, saying it confirmed the USA recognised the whole of Jerusalem as part of Israel.

After occupying the city's eastern part in the 1967 War, Israel unilaterally annexed the territory, and proclaimed it as its capital.

"Frankly the making it clear that they have no interest to declare separate Palestinian sovereignty", head of the Arab American Institute James Zogby said, "They ought to hang a welcome sign that says "welcome to the one-state solution" over the door".

The embassy was officially transferred on May 14, sparking violent protests in Gaza where about 60 Palestinian protestors were killed by Israeli fire.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat issued a statement on Thursday decrying the USA move, he said: "it has nothing to do with efficiency and a lot to do with pleasing an ideological United States team that is willing to disband the foundations of (the) worldwide system".

Announcing the new diplomatic framework Thursday, the State Department said it was merely a continuation of the embassy's transition to Jerusalem and is aimed at streamlining operations in the region.

Israel occupied Jerusalem al-Quds in 1967 in a move never recognized by the worldwide community.

"This step confirms that the USA recognises the entire city as Israel's capital", he said.

In addition, it has shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington, revoking the visas of all Palestinian representatives. President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has been in talks with the Israelis on a still-secret peace plan he has reportedly devised.

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