Jerusalem US consulate, serving Palestinians, to become part of embassy to Israel
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Jerusalem US consulate, serving Palestinians, to become part of embassy to Israel

A newly hung sign pointing to the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, which was inaugurated on May 14, 2018. (Ben Sales)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which primarily serves Palestinian-Americans, will merge operations with the U.S. embassy to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced.

The consulate on Agron Street in the center of western Jerusalem will merge operations with the new Israeli embassy in Arnona, on the eastern-western seam of the 1967 lines that divided the city, according to the announcement issued on Thursday.  Pompeo said that he asked U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to “guide the merger.”

“We will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside U.S. Embassy Jerusalem,” the statement said.

The statement added that the merger “does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip,” but rather is driven by “our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations.” Pompeo emphasized that “the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders.  The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”

Palestinian leaders are likely to decry the move, as it will have the effect of wrapping Palestinian affairs into the U.S.-Israel relationship, and will diminish the diplomatic status of the Palestinian Authority.

“The Administration is strongly committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians,” Pompeo said. “We look forward to continued partnership and dialogue with the Palestinian people and, we hope in the future, with the Palestinian leadership.”