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Republican Senators Back Bill To Block Biden Plan for Consulate in Jerusalem
The US Consulate Building on Agron Street in central Jerusalem could be used as a US Consulate to the Palestinians. (Wikimedia Commons)

Republican Senators Back Bill To Block Biden Plan for Consulate in Jerusalem

Republican senators in the United States have introduced a bill, called the Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021, to thwart the Biden administration’s plan to open a US Consulate in Jerusalem.

“President Biden continues to push forward his inflammatory plan to establish a second mission in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem – one for the Israelis and a second one for the Palestinians – despite the fact that this plan violates the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and is completely opposed by the government of Israel,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) Hagerty, one of the bill’s champions, in a statement on Tuesday.

The bill has little chance of passing; it is unlikely to get any Democratic support and Republicans are a minority in both houses of Congress.

President Biden has said he would not backtrack on former President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and would leave the US Embassy there, but that Jerusalem should also be the site of a US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians. President Trump closed the US Consulate that previously served this role, in a move that was interpreted as a downgrading of US relations with the Palestinian Authority.

The US would need Israeli permission to open a consulate in Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reportedly told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that pressuring Israel on the issue could put a serious strain on Israel’s left-right unity government, leading to its toppling and bringing a narrow right-wing government to power.

In response, Blinken suggested that a joint US-Israeli team hold talks aimed at resolving the issue quietly, to avoid a political blowup. Lapid asked that the team not meet until after the Israeli government has passed a budget – a milestone that should give it the political stamina to handle more controversial issues without risking collapse.

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