US says remains committed to reopening Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians

US says remains committed to reopening Jerusalem consulate for Palestinians
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price rejected any suggestion the Jerusalem consulate plan had been shelved but said there are 'unique sensitivities to this particular facility', which will serve Palestinians.
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Ned Price said the US is 'working through the issue' with 'our Palestinian and Israeli partners' [SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP/Getty-archive]

The Biden administration remains committed to reopening a US consulate in Jerusalem and is further discussing the issue with Israelis and Palestinians, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.

Former US President Donald Trump moved Washington's embassy to Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018 and shut down a separate facility in the city that served as a consulate for Palestinians.

President Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in 2020, pledged to reopen it, but no date has been set.

Trump's decision to move the embassy to Israel to Jerusalem tore up longstanding US policy and was widely criticised by the international community.

It also came despite the fact the United Nations recognises the eastern part of the city, which was illegally annexed by Israel in 1980, as occupied Palestinian territory.

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Israel has publicly opposed the plan and suggested that such a mission should not be located in the illegally occupied holy city, but in the West Bank.

"There are a number of steps that have to go into the reopening of any diplomatic facility. As you know, there are some shall we say unique sensitivities to this particular facility," Price said at a regular news briefing, rejecting any suggestion the consulate plan had been shelved.

"We are working through the issue with our Palestinian and Israeli partners."

The Times of Israel, citing unidentified US and Palestinian officials, reported on Sunday that in lieu of reopening the facility, Washington was planning to appoint the current top State Department diplomat for the Israeli and Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, as a special envoy to the Palestinians.

Asked about the report on Tuesday, Price said he did not have any personnel announcements to make.