US Consulate in Jerusalem to merge with embassy

US Consulate in Jerusalem to merge with embassy

The consulate in Jerusalem had enjoyed a unique status reporting to the State Department nearly like an embassy itself.

The embassy will now include a Palestinian affairs unit under the jurisdiction of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

"We will continue to conduct all of the diplomatic and consular functions previously performed by US Embassy Jerusalem", CNN quoted State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino as saying on Sunday. Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson, for example, said that his appointment was "a distressing signal that the [Trump] administration will give the Israeli government a free hand to deepen its fundamentally undemocratic and abusive control over Palestinian land, resources, and rights".

"As the President has stated, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders".

The decision had been announced in October. It's been the de facto U.S. Embassy to the Palestinian territories ever since the Palestinian Authority (ph) government was set up after the Oslo peace accords in the '90s. The Palestinian Authority has preemptively rejected the plan, accusing the USA of bias toward Israel.

The downgrade is just the latest in a string of divisive decisions by the Trump administration that have backed Israel and alienated the Palestinians, who say they have lost faith in the USA administration's role as a neutral arbiter in peace process.

But Palestinian leaders see it as another move against them by US President Donald Trump's administration, which they froze contact with after his 2017 decision recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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It added: "With the U.S. proceeding with this policy proves once again that it has chosen to disqualify itself to exclusively lead the peace process, which the Palestinian people will not accept anyhow", stressing that "the peace process should be revived through an worldwide peace conference attended by the permanent members of the (UN) Security Council and expanding the circle of participants politically and regionally under the umbrella of the United Nations and based on its global resolutions".

A Palestinian official called the move "the last nail in the coffin of the USA administration's role in peacemaking".

The three-story Jerusalem mansion, with its arched windows and bougainvillea-covered walls, was where the unofficial United States envoy to the Palestinians lived and hosted Palestinian guests for Fourth of July parties. "It is an act of political assault on Palestinian rights and identity".

A mistake to close the American Consulate General Jerusalem on Monday. It recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the embassy there.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel and the Palestinians.

The announcement from the State Department came early Monday in Jerusalem, the merger effective that day.

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