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U.S. Urged to Place Its Consulate in East Jerusalem Under the Control of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Avi

April 10, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The American Jewish Congress continued to urge that the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem be placed under control of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv but denied that it had “suggested” that the Consulate and its staff “are anti-Israel or pro-PLO.”

A statement to that effect was issued here by Henry Siegman, executive director of the AJCongress whose leaders have been meeting in Jerusalem.

Siegman took issue with the sharp response by the State Department and by un-named U.S. officials to accusations that the Consulate was conducting “its affairs in a way that are inimical to Israeli and American interests” and that its personnel have “overstepped the bounds of diplomatic decency” by alleged frequent meetings with Arabs who sympathize with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Those charges were contained in an article published in The Jerusalem Post April 1 by David Clayman, director of the AJCongress Israel office and Peretz Levine, a research intern.

The State Department vigorously denied that the Consulate in Jerusalem has been behaving improperly toward Israel and called the charges “totally misplaced and, indeed, irresponsible.” An unidentified American official warned that such charges could place the Consulate and its staff in danger from attacks by Jewish extremists.


Siegman reiterated charges that the Consulate acted in a manner that reflected pro-Arab bias. But, his statement said, “Our comments were directed not at Consular staff but at their activities which have focused on Palestinians who are in sympathy with the PLO and systematically avoided those who are not.”

Claiming that this “suggests a policy of preference that is clearly at odds with the declared policy of the Reagan Administration,” Siegman stated, “It is that inconsistency in U.S. policy, as implied by the activities of the Consulate in Jerusalem, that the American Jewish Congress criticized, and not the personal views of the Consular staff.”

He observed, “We have no way of knowing the personal sentiments of Consular staff on this subject, and therefore would have made no such accusations.”

Siegman added, “We consider the characterization of our concern, by un-named U.S. officials in Israel as ‘ridiculous’ to be inappropriate and offensive. We also consider the suggestion that discussion of U.S. policy must be muted and repressed for fear of provoking violent reaction by unbalanced individuals as entirely inconsistent with how public policy is conducted in a democratic society. Indeed, such suggestions are themselves highly irresponsible, for they tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.”

The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem has offices in both the east and west sections of the city and deals directly with Palestinians on the West Bank. But unlike Consulates in most other countries, it does not report to the Embassy but to the State Department in Washington.

This has long been a bone of contention between Israel and the U.S. but it was the AJCongress, not the Israel government, which raised the issue at this time.

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