The Biden administration has been putting massive pressure on Israel to allow it to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinians, despite well-knowing that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other senior government officials are vehemently opposed to the move.
The administration seems to be plowing ahead with its plan as if Israel has no sovereignty over its own country, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling reporters two weeks ago: “As I said in May, we’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians.”
On Wednesday, Republican Senator Bill Hagerty (TN) seemed to call out the administration’s bulldozer tactics, directly asking a senior State Department official whether it can reopen a consulate without the consent of the Israeli government.
“President [Joe] Biden’s proposal to open a second U.S. mission in Jerusalem would begin to reverse the recognition of Jerusalem, and it would divide Israel’s eternal and undivided capital city,” Hagerty said to US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Important question from @SenatorHagerty: Does Israel have to agree before the US could open or reopen a consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem?
“That’s my understanding—that we’d need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.” -DepSec McKeon pic.twitter.com/lIoQB3eV9K
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) October 28, 2021
“I just want to confirm something. On the record – is it your understanding that under US and international law the government of Israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the United States could open or reopen the US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem? Or does the Biden administration believe it can move forward to establish a second US mission in the Israel capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the government in Israel?”
McKeon replied: “Senator, that’s my understanding — that we need the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.”
Hagerty is leading a group of 35 Republican senators engaged in efforts to block the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the consulate. The group introduced a bill on Tuesday called “Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021.”
“President Biden continues to push forward his inflammatory plan to establish a second mission in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem—one for the Israelis and a second one for the Palestinians—despite the fact that this plan violates the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and is completely opposed by the Government of Israel,” Hagerty said in an introductory statement to the legislation.
“It is regrettable that the Biden administration insists on making moves that divide the United States and Israel when our two nations should be laser-focused on stopping Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime from going nuclear, on countering growing threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Iran-backed terrorist groups, and on strengthening and expanding the historic Abraham Accords that truly have increased peace in the Middle East.”
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida stated: “It is outrageous that the Biden Administration continues to voice support for reopening a consulate in Jerusalem, which calls into question its status as Israel’s capital. In no other country does the United States operate both an embassy and a separate consulate in the same city. This would be a shameful violation of U.S. law and an affront to our Israeli allies. I’m proud to support this crucial piece of legislation, which would ensure that Jerusalem remains Israel’s united and historic capital.”
However, due to the lack of a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, the bill is not likely to pass.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)