US closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission

US closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission

US closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission

The US State Department resisted efforts to change the status of the consulate in the face of Palestinian pressure concerning negotiations over the final status of Jerusalem.

It added: "With the U.S. proceeding with this policy proves once again that it has chosen to disqualify itself to exclusively lead the peace process, which the Palestinian people will not accept anyhow", stressing that "the peace process should be revived through an worldwide peace conference attended by the permanent members of the (UN) Security Council and expanding the circle of participants politically and regionally under the umbrella of the United Nations and based on its global resolutions".

KELLY: So explain exactly what the consulate did.

The step evoked Palestinians' concerns over USA administration policy that ignores the Palestinian position on occupied Jerusalem. But we haven't heard so much about this other diplomatic outpost in Jerusalem. This is no mere technicality, and precisely reflects current USA policies: "all things Palestinian are subservient to Israeli interests". It was based in a handsome historic stone mansion with a lovely courtyard, downtown Jerusalem. It infuriated the Palestinians who see closing the office that served them and moving it to the embassy as another sign of the Trump administration's pro-Israel bias. And the idea was to have diplomatic symmetry.

The US Consulate General in Jerusalem is the top mission for Palestinians, who with broad worldwide backing seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

KELLY: So why do this move now? Last fall, it shut down the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington.

The Palestinian Authority has preemptively rejected the plan, accusing the US of bias toward Israel. The State Department is saying this is for efficiency's sake and reflects no policy change.

The former U.S. Consulate on 18 Agron Road.

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But in response, a senior Israeli diplomatic official told Hebrew media that "the issue was never discussed".

The road, aptly named "death street" for its lack of streetlights and narrowness, have led Palestinian residents of the village to argue that the ramming was an accident.

"I gave an instruction to speed up the demolition of these homes within the parameters of the legal system", the premier said. It has cut funding to the United Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinians classified as refugees, whose definition of ongoing generations of Palestinians as refugees is opposed by Israel and has been criticized by the US.

Anadolu Agency was unable to obtain immediate comment from either Palestinian or Israeli officials regarding Lavrov's assertions.

And the chief Palestinian negotiator is calling this the final nail in the coffin of the USA role in peacemaking.

For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians.

Palestinians, many of them individuals without known associations with militant groups, carried out a wave of car-ramming attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016, but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased. They also say that it sends the message that the United States is seeking a one-state solution to the conflict over territorial disputes in Jerusalem.

KELLY: NPR's Daniel Estrin reporting from Jerusalem.

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