Israel says a US plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem that has traditionally been a base for diplomatic outreach to Palestinians is a “bad idea” and could destabilise Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new government.
The prior administration of President Donald Trump signalled support for Israel’s claim on Jerusalem as its capital by moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv and subsuming the consulate in that mission.
It was among several moves that incensed the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as capital of a hoped-for, future state.
President Joe Biden has pledged to restore ties with the Palestinians, back a two-state solution and move forward with reopening the consulate. It has been closed since 2019, with Palestinian affairs handled by the embassy.
“We think it’s a bad idea,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told a news conference when asked about the reopening. “Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel and Israel alone, and therefore we don’t think it’s a good idea.
“We know that the (Biden) administration has a different way of looking at this, but since it is happening in Israel, we are sure they are listening to us very carefully.”
Asked for comment, Wasel Abu Youssef, an official with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, said Israel was trying to keep the status quo and block any political solution.