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US maintains course on de facto Palestinian embassy despite Israeli pressure

US to 'work closely with Israel, deepen our diplomatic ties with the Palestinians,' says Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Michael Hernandez   | 13.10.2021
US maintains course on de facto Palestinian embassy despite Israeli pressure

WASHINGTON

The US is intent on opening its de facto embassy to Palestinians, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday despite stalwart opposition from Israel.

"We will work closely with Israel, deepen our diplomatic ties with the Palestinians, and consult with partners in the region and beyond who have a common interest in supporting efforts to advance a lasting peace," he told reporters during a news conference with his Israeli and Emirati counterparts.

"As I said in May, we'll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate, as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians," added Blinknen.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid previously warned that reopening Washington's consulate general in West Jerusalem, which has traditionally served as the US' diplomatic headquarters for the Palestinians, is a "bad idea."

The move, he said, “will send the wrong message, not only to the region, not only to the Palestinians, but also to other countries, and we don’t want this to happen.”

The building, which was built before the creation of the state of Israel, was closed by former US President Donald Trump in 2019 when he moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the contested city as Israel's capital. The consulate’s functions were folded in to those of the embassy.

Trump's actions triggered widespread backlash among Palestinians, who are seeking East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. They have since halted diplomatic contacts with the US.

President Joe Biden has made the restoration of relations with the Palestinians a priority.

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