Two-hundred Republican lawmakers have sent a letter to President Joe Biden expressing their opposition to the reopening of the U.S. consulate in eastern Jerusalem, which formerly served as a de factor Palestinian embassy before being permanently shuttered by the Trump administration following its declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2018.
“We write today to express our strong opposition to your administration’s proposal to reopen the US consulate general in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, that would provide separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians,” the House Republicans wrote in the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Lee Zeldin (one of two Jewish House Republicans).
According to the lawmakers, reopening the US consulate general in Jerusalem “would be inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by promoting division of Jerusalem.”
“Your administration would create a misguided situation in which the U.S. would essentially have two separate diplomatic missions in Israel’s capital,” the letter stated. “The U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem that was established in 1844 was not intended to serve as an outreach to the Palestinians in Israel’s capital.”
Reopening the embassy would also “reward and turn a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority engaging in the real obstacles to peace.”
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Only 12 members of the Republican caucus did not sign the letter, which comes days after 35 Senate Republicans sought to introduce legislation preventing the United States from reopening the diplomatic post.
Last week, under questioning from Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) , a senior State Department official admitted that President Joe Biden would not be able to reopen the consulate without Israel’s consent, on the basis of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which bars the U.S. from taking any action that would divide Jerusalem.
“It is regrettable that the Biden administration insists on making moves that divide the United States and Israel when our two nations should be laser-focused on stopping Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime from going nuclear,” Hagerty said in a statement.
As noted in a Breitbart article at the time, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, ratified unanimously by the Senate in 1969, also prevents any country from declaring a consulate without the permission of the host country.
Democratic lawmakers have pressured both the Biden administration as well as Israeli officials to reopen the consulate. According to the Haaretz daily, Palestinian officials have described the consulate as “the seed of the American Embassy to the future Palestinian state, and a statement about everything related to the administration’s position on Jerusalem.”