The Biden administration’s plans to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem have been shelved until after Israel’s upcoming elections, Axios reported Wednesday.
The consulate has for decades served Palestinians as a de facto embassy and was the main conduit for communication between the U.S. and the Palestinian leadership. It was shuttered by the Trump administration and merged into the new U.S. Embassy, which was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.
Attempting to reopen it would become highly politicized during election season, the report said, and make any attempts to do so fraught with challenges.
“We look forward to deepening our engagement with the Palestinian people and leadership. As part of that, we are reviewing our U.S. diplomatic presence on the ground to ensure that it enables us to fully conduct our complete range of activities, including engagement, public diplomacy, assistance and diplomatic reporting,” a State Department source told Axios.
According to Axios, discussions have taken place about whether the consulate would be reinstated in its former location in Agron Street in downtown Jerusalem or whether it would be moved to a new location in east Jerusalem, which is predominantly Arab.
“Such a move would be packed with political symbolism, signaling that the U.S. recognizes that the Palestinian capital should be in East Jerusalem. But it would encounter sharp Israeli pushback,” the report said, noting that any reopening would need Israel’s approval.
The Trump administration’s decision to shut down the consulate sparked outrage among Palestinians, who said the move constituted a de facto recognition by the U.S. of Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Late Palestinian official Saeb Erekat described the move as being “the final nail in the coffin” for the Trump administration’s efforts at a peace process.
Member of the PLO central committee member, Hanan Ashrawi, said it was “an act of political assault on Palestinian rights and identity.”