The official shutting of the US embassy in Jerusalem becomes another Washington move, which made the Palestinian leaders angry, Al Jazeera reported on Monday.
The symbolic shift hands authority over US diplomatic channels with the West Bank and Gaza to Ambassador David Friedman, a longtime supporter and fundraiser for the West Bank settler movement and fierce critic of the Palestinian leadership.
For decades, the US consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy. “It does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip,” State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement.
Washington has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission in Palestine by folding it into the US Embassy to Israel. According to the State Dept spokesman, a decision to shut embassy was driven by the US global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations.
According to Jared Kushner, the US would unveil the deal after Israeli elections next month, while the Palestinian Authority has preemptively rejected the plan, accusing the U.S. of bias toward Israel.
The US role in peacemaking is over, say the Palestinian leaders
Palestinian leaders see the decision as another move against them by US President Donald Trump’s administration, which they froze contact with after his 2017 decision recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“The Trump administration is intent on leaving no room for doubt about its hostility towards the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights, as well as its abject disregard for international law and its obligations under the law,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the move “the final nail in the coffin” for the US role in peacemaking.
When first announced by US Secretary Mike Pompeo in October, the move infuriated Palestinians, leading to their suspicions that the US was recognising Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories that Palestinians seek for a future state.