The United States is expected to implement a decision to merge its consulate general in Jerusalem al-Quds with an embassy it has opened in the city, effectively stripping Palestinians of American consular services.
A US State Department official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the move was “expected to take place on March 4.”
The merger was announced last October, when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that it was meant to improve “efficiency and effectiveness” and did not constitute a change in Washington’s policy. Pompeo also said that a new Palestinian affairs unit would be established inside the US al-Quds embassy.
The US consulate in Jerusalem al-Quds has been acting independently as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians since the Oslo accords of the 1990s. Its closure now would mean that Palestinian affairs would come under the direction of US ambassador to Israel David Friedman inside the embassy building — which became a major cause of Palestinian anger when it was opened in May 2018.
Earlier, in December 2017, the US recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital,” sparking global condemnation.
Following those moves, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the conflict with Israel because Washington was “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.
Palestinians also consider Friedman as biased in favor of the Israeli regime.
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denounced the US merger decision in October last year, saying it represented “the final nail in the coffin of the US administration’s role in the peace industry.”
“The decision of the United States to end the consulate’s existence… has nothing to do with efficiency, but a lot with the desire to please the ideologized American team, which is primed to dismantle the foundations of the international system and US foreign policy in order to reward Israel for its violations and crimes,” he said in a statement.
Under President Donald Trump, the US administration has taken several hostile measures against the Palestinian people, among them a change of policy on Jerusalem al-Quds.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967 and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.
Israel lays claim to the whole city, but Palestinians view its eastern sector as the capital of their future sovereign state.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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