Reopening US consulate in Jerusalem a 'bad idea': Israel FM

Israeli FM says Biden's plan to reopen US consulate in Jerusalem is a 'bad idea'
2 min read
01 September, 2021
Israel's FM Yair Lapid warned the US that reopening a US consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinian outreach could "destabilise [his] government, and I don't think the American administration wants this to happen."
Israeli FM Yair Lapid said 'Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel and Israel alone, and therefore we don't think it's a good idea' [source: Getty]

Israel believes the Biden administration's plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem to provide diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians is a "bad idea", Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday.

The previous administration of President Donald Trump signalled support for Israel's claim on Jerusalem as its capital by moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv and subsuming the consulate in that mission.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to restore ties with the Palestinians, back a two-state solution and move forward with reopening the consulate. It has been closed since 2019, with Palestinian affairs handled by the embassy.

"We think it's a bad idea," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told a news conference when asked about the reopening. "Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel and Israel alone, and therefore we don't think it's a good idea.

"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."

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Asked for comment, Wasel Abu Youssef, an official with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization, said Israel was trying to keep the status quo and block any political solution.

The US embassy had no immediate comment.

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.

Bennett, a nationalist atop a cross-partisan coalition, opposes Palestinian statehood.

Reopening the consulate could unsettle Bennett's government, which ended long-term premier Benjamin Netanyahu's tenure in June, Lapid said.

"We have an interesting and yet delicate structure of our government and we think this might destabilise this government and I don't think the American administration wants this to happen," he said.

Divisions among Palestinians also cast doubt about the prospects for diplomacy, Lapid said. "I am a devoted believer in the two-state solution ... but we'll have to admit the fact this is not feasible in the current situation."