Fact Check: Jen Psaki Claims Palestinian Leaders Were ‘Cut Off’ by Closure of Jerusalem Consulate

The White House

CLAIM: Palestinian leaders were “cut off” from the United States by the closure of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem in 2019.

VERDICT: FALSE. Palestinian leaders were cut off because of their refusal to negotiate and to stop funding terrorism.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke Tuesday about President Joe Biden’s decision to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, a separate building from the U.S. embassy. (Biden has said he will keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which was opened in 2018 by President Donald Trump, fulfilling a promise presidents from both parties had made but never kept.) What was once the consulate is now an annex to the U.S. embassy.

Biden promised to reopen the consulate during the 2020 campaign, falsely referring to it as a consulate in “East Jerusalem.” In fact, the building is in western Jerusalem.

Psaki claimed that the closure of the consulate meant cutting off Palestinian leaders. But Palestinian leaders are in Ramallah, in the West Bank — not in Jerusalem. Consular services and outreach to ordinary Palestinians is still available, and is handled by the embassy.

There were several reasons Palestinian leaders were “cut off.” One was simply that, at the outset, Palestinian leaders did not know anyone in the incoming Trump administration. All of their contacts were in the Beltway — at the State Department and elite foreign policy circles. Trump was an outsider, with whom Palestinian leaders had no relationship.

That relationship was later forged in meeting between Trump and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas — much to the chagrin of some in the Trump White House, who objected to the PA’s continued funding of terrorism. But President Trump wanted to achieve the “Deal of the Century” between Israelis and Palestinians, and so he reached out.

What “cut off” the Palestinians was their refusal to negotiate — a refusal dating back to the early years of the Obama administration — and their refusal to stop paying stipends to terrorists and their families. When Trump signed the Taylor Force Act in 2018, he forbade U.S. taxpayer funds from being used for those purposes. Abbas refused to cut off the stipends — and so U.S. funding was cut. Later, Trump cut funding to other Palestinian institutions, like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has incubated the so-called “refugee” problem and has allowed anti-Israel indoctrination.

Trump also evicted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from its Washington, DC, offices, thanks to a U.S. law prohibiting the Palestinians from trying to isolate Israel by taking it to the International Criminal Court, which they did.

In his new Middle East peace plan, Trump offered the Palestinians $50 billion in investment if they would make peace with Israel within four years. They continued to refuse — and so Israel made peace with other Arab states in the region, anyway.

The Palestinian leadership has been “cut off” from the U.S. because of decisions made by the Palestinians themselves. The re-opening of the consulate — without any concessions from the Palestinians — will, arguably, only encourage further bad behavior.

The real Palestinian “leaders” delighted by the reopening of the consulate will be the anti-Israel activists who once found the building congenial for their purposes. It was, until Trump, known as a haven for Americans who oppose Israel.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, We Told You So!: The First 100 Days of Joe Biden’s Radical Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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