Democrat senators call for reopening of Jerusalem consulate

Democratic senators urge reopening Jerusalem consulate 'to serve Palestinians'
2 min read
05 September, 2021
During a visit to Israel, Democrat Senators stressed the need to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem to help serve Palestinians, a call the Israeli government has refused.
The US consulate in Jerusalem was shut in 2018 after Trump moved the US embassy there from Tel Aviv [Getty]

Leading Democrat senators on Saturday stressed the need to re-open the US consulate in Jerusalem, despite the objection voiced by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid only days earlier.

"In our meetings today in Israel with Prime Minister [Naftali] Bennett and other officials, we stressed the importance we place on reopening our consulate in Jerusalem to better serve Palestinians," Sen. Chris Murphy said during a visit he headed to Israel.

He described former president Donald Trump's closure of the consulate as "cruel".

Trump's very controversial decision to move his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem took place in 2018.

Senator Chris Van Hollen stated that President Joe Biden was "committed" to reopening the consulate and reverse Trump’s "harmful decision".

In an attempt to restore ties between the US and Palestinian Authority, Biden had planned to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem, which served Palestinians in the city, as well as the West Bank and Gaza.

He also pledged to back a two-state solution.

The Democrats in Washington have been vocal in the past months against Israeli treatment of Palestinians, especially after Israel's 11-day bombardment of Gaza in May.

In comments made on Wednesday, Lapid said Israel believes the Biden’s plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem to provide diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians was a "bad idea".

"Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel and Israel alone, and therefore we don't think it's a good idea," he said.

"We know that the [Biden] administration has a different way of looking at this, but since it is happening in Israel, we are sure they are listening to us very carefully."

Bennett, who formed a coalition government with Lapid in June, is a hardline nationalist who opposes Palestinian statehood and previously led a powerful settler lobbying council.

Israel deems all of Jerusalem its undivided capital - a status not recognised internationally.

It captured the city's east, along with the occupied West Bank and Gaza, in the 1967 Middle East war.