Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Research & Special Projects Elizabeth Berney, Esq. released the following statement:
Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department just clarified that the Biden administration is “committed” to opening an illegal “Palestinian” consulate in Jerusalem. This dashed the recent, previous sliver of good news, reported by The Times of Israel and Israel National News, based on statements from senior Biden administration officials, that the Biden administration had finally given up its plans to open an illegal “Palestinian” Arab consulate in the heart of Jerusalem (but was instead planning other unsavory alternatives).
At a U.S. State Department press briefing yesterday afternoon, a questioner asked about the Times of Israel report that “you guys have shelved, once and for all,” opening the Palestinian consulate. State Department spokesman Ned Price responded that this part of the Times of Israel report “is not accurate. We remain committed to opening a consulate in Jerusalem.” The hostile-to-Israel questioner then asked what the holdup was. Ned Price responded that there are some steps that have to be taken and “unique sensitivities . . . and we are working through the issue with our Palestinian and Israeli partners.” (So now the Palestinian Authority terror regime is a U.S. “partner”?)
ZOA, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others have repeatedly explained that opening a U.S. consulate for Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem – over the opposition of Israel’s current and previous government – is wrong and illegal under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) – which requires the consent of the host country to open a consulate, and is illegal under the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 – which recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a united, undivided city.
The consulate would also promote dividing the Jewish people’s eternal capital Jerusalem; exert illegal pressure on Israel regarding her internal affairs; serve as a hotbed of spies and anti-Israel activities; and reward, promote, cater to, and send a terrible message to the Palestinian Authority terror regime – which continues to pay terrorists to murder Jews. Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the functions of a consulate are limited to passports, visas, helping nationals of the sending country, and the like. A consulate is not permitted to promote the interests of a hostile group in the host country. There is also no need for a separate consulate now that the U.S. Embassy is properly in Jerusalem. (See, e.g., “ZOA Praises Pompeo Saying Re-Opening U.S. Consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem is Illegal & Wrong,” Oct. 6, 2021; “Action Alert: ZOA Opposes Re-Opening a U.S. “Palestinian Arab” Consulate in Jerusalem,” Aug. 23, 2021.)
The hostile questioner at the State Department briefing also misleadingly insisted that the U.S. would simply be reopening a 160-year-old consulate. In fact, as Ambassador David Friedman explained, the original U.S. consulate “was established by American Christian Zionists in 1844 — 104 years before the establishment of the state of Israel and when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire — to facilitate the return of Jewish people to Jerusalem.” (“U.S. Should Not Re-Open the Jerusalem Consulate,” by Amb. David Friedman, The Hill, May 26, 2021.)
The Biden State Department’s “commitment” to opening an illegal, divisive consulate serving the Palestinian Arab terror regime — in Israel’s capital — is no way for the U.S. to treat its ally Israel. ZOA urges Israel to continue to stand strongly against the Biden administration’s illegal, divisive, dangerous, disrespectful Palestinian Arab consulate plan.