U.S. envoy to Palestinians says Washington still wants Jerusalem consulate

The US consulate in Jerusalem (AFP)

Reuters  /  November 30, 2022

JERUSALEM – The top U.S. official on Palestinian affairs reaffirmed on Wednesday that Washington wanted to reopen its Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians even as a new hard right government prepares to take office in Israel.

Hady Amr, the U.S. Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs, said President Joe Biden remained committed to a two-state solution as “the best way forward for Israelis and Palestinians to realize their aspirations”.

But he offered no concrete sign of progress on Palestinians’ quest for a state in Israeli-occupied territory. That objective is opposed by incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far right allies. U.S.-led negotiations stalled in 2014.

“What we are focused on in the immediate term is lifting up and improving Palestinian lives while we also look for ways to restore a political horizon and return to a two-state solution,” Amr said in a briefing with journalists.

Amr said the Biden administration still aimed to reopen its Jerusalem consulate – shut down in 2019 by then-President Donald Trump – despite opposition from Israel, which regards Jerusalem as its indivisible capital.

“We remain committed to reopening a consulate in Jerusalem,” he said, without providing a timeline.

Amr declined to comment on Netanyahu’s new government, which is expected to include far-right leader Itamar Ben-Gvir in a key national security ministry, with expanded powers over police in the occupied West Bank.

“We are going to stay focused on our goal of working towards and advancing towards equal measures of security, freedom and justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Ben-Gvir, a West Bank settler, was convicted in 2007 for incitement against Arabs and support for a Jewish militant group deemed by Israel and the United States to be a terrorist organization.

Reporting by Henriette Chacar; editing by James Mackenzie and Mark Heinrich