Republican lawmakers urge US not to open consulate in Jerusalem

The Biden administration is looking to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem that previous president Donald Trump closed.

 CRISIS OR business as usual? A view of the US Consulate General on Agron Street in Jerusalem. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
CRISIS OR business as usual? A view of the US Consulate General on Agron Street in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

WASHINGTON – A group of 200 House Republicans sent a letter to US President Joe Biden on Monday, urging him not to reopen the US Consulate in east Jerusalem.

The Biden administration is looking to reopen the consulate, which was closed by former president Donald Trump. But given the objections of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and several cabinet ministers, it is not clear when Biden will move ahead with the plan.

“We write today to express our strong opposition to your administration’s proposal to reopen the US consulate general in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, that would provide separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians,” the House Republicans wrote. Reopening the US consulate general in Jerusalem “would be inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by promoting division of Jerusalem,” they added.

“This would be unacceptable, shameful, and wrong,” they wrote, adding that Biden supported the legislation as a senator.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York) spearheaded the letter, and he was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Whip Steve Scalise.

 AN AMERICAN flag flutters at the premises of the former United States Consulate in Jerusalem. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS) AN AMERICAN flag flutters at the premises of the former United States Consulate in Jerusalem. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

If the administration would move ahead with its plan, it “would create a misguided situation in which the US would essentially have two separate diplomatic missions in Israel’s capital, including the US Embassy to Israel along with the consulate general for outreach to the Palestinians, whose government is based in Ramallah,” the letter said.

“The Trump Administration fixed this ill-advised situation with the merger but maintained outreach to the Palestinians by establishing the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) within the US Embassy in Jerusalem,” it said.

Noting the opposition within the Israeli government, the lawmakers wrote: “We urge you to respect our close ally Israel’s opposition to the reopening of the US consulate general in Jerusalem, especially since Israel’s cooperation is essential.”

Last week, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), along with 33 other Republican senators, introduced a bill meant to block the Biden administration from opening a consulate serving Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“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,” Hagerty said in a statement.

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