WASHINGTON (Apr. 5)
The State Department denied today that its Consulate in Jerusalem has been behaving improperly toward Israel.
“Any charges about improper behavior or intentions on behalf of or on the part of the Consul General or any of the personnel in the Consulate General are totally misplaced and, indeed, irresponsible,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said.
Romberg was replying to a question about an article in The Jerusalem Post last Sunday by David Clayman, director of the Israel office of the American Jewish Congress, and Peretz Levine, a research intern, that the Consulate, which has offices in both East and West Jerusalem “conducts its affairs in a way that are inimical to Israeli and American interests.”
Wat Cluverius, the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, does not report to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv but directly to the State Department in Washington, a practice that has existed since Israel took over East Jerusalem in 1967. The only other independent U.S. Consulate is in Hong Kong.
While Cluverius lives in West Jerusalem and there is an office there, Consular services, including the processing of visa applications, are carried out in East Jerusalem.
A SORE POINT WITH ISRAELIS
This has long been a sore point with Israelis who consider the East Jerusalem Consulate to be pro-Palestinian. Clayman and Levine, in their article, said the East Jerusalem Consulate is an “overwhelmingly Arab environment” where “the feeling is re-enforced that the Consulate serves Arabs and not Jews.” They accused the Consulate personnel of having “overstepped the bounds of diplomatic decency” by such activities as frequently meeting with pro-Palestine Liberation Organizations Arabs.
The flare-up over the Consulate comes at a time when the Reagan Administration is trying to prevent Congress from adopting a bill to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. One compromise that has been suggested is that the Jerusalem Consulate be placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Embassy. The AJCongress, which is presently meeting in Jerusalem, called for such a move this week.