US State Dept confirms: Israel would have to authorize Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem

The US closed its consulate to the Palestinians in 2018, when it openly recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy there.

US Embassy Jerusalem (photo credit: US EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM)
US Embassy Jerusalem
(photo credit: US EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM)

The US State Department has confirmed it cannot open a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem without Israel’s authorization.

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee) this week proposed a bill to ensure that the only US diplomatic entity in Jerusalem would be the US Embassy. During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, he asked Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon about the matter.

“President [Joe] Biden’s proposal to open a second US mission in Jerusalem would begin to reverse the recognition of Jerusalem, and it would divide Israel’s eternal and undivided capital city,” Hagerty said. “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 Israeli capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the government of Israel?”

McKeon responded: “Senator, that’s my understanding – that we’d need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.”

In 2018, the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It closed its consulate to the Palestinians and opened a department for handling Palestinian consular affairs at the US Embassy.

The facility on Agron Street in downtown Jerusalem, an area of the city that some countries, including Russia, recognize as Israel’s, was turned into a residence for the ambassador.

 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)
Biden promised to reopen the consulate during his election campaign. US officials have raised the issue with the Israeli government, which opposes it.