US State Department Official: Reopening Jerusalem Consulate Requires Israeli Approval
A US State Department official confirmed to the US Senate that the US cannot reopen its consulate in Jerusalem to serve Palestinians without Israeli approval. US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday to answer senators’ questions on a variety of subjects. When asked by Senator Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, whether Israel would have to agree to the United States’ reopening a consulate, McKeon replied: “That’s my understanding – that we’d need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility.” The consulate, which served Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, was closed by the Trump administration in 2018, when it opened a Palestinian Affairs Unit in the newly established US Embassy in Jerusalem. The Biden administration has said it plans to reopen the consulate but will wait until the Israeli government passes a national budget, to prevent friction among the eight disparate parties represented in the ruling coalition, since failure to approve the budget will bring down the government. Earlier this week, Hagerty introduced a bill supported by 33 other Republican senators, that would block the reopening of the consulate.