Home Consulate Former Jerusalem mayor lobbies against opening US consulate to Palestinians

Former Jerusalem mayor lobbies against opening US consulate to Palestinians

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An Israeli politician and former mayor of Jerusalem urges the Biden administration to drop its plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem to Palestinians, calling such a decision a mistake.

Nir Barkat, a member of the opposition party in Israel’s parliament, is in Washington, DC, to meet with bipartisan lawmakers to promote legislation he introduced last week in Israel that would ban countries from opening new diplomatic missions to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“It’s not about the US administration, but about the fact that we don’t want Palestinian consulates residing in Jerusalem,” Barkat, who served as mayor of the Holy City from 2008 to 2018, said in an interview. at The Hill.

Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenGloria Estefan Says US Should Get Involved in Cuba Passport Backlog Threatens to Disrupt Travel Plans of Millions of Americans Protesters Paint “Cuba Libre” in Street Outside Cuban Embassy in DC MORE in May ad that the Biden administration intends to reopen the US consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem. The consulate was closed during the Trump administration and its portfolio merged with the embassy when it was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Barkat is a member of the Likud party, led by the former Israeli prime minister Benjamin netanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuPLUS and who now leads the opposition in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Netanyahu was ousted after 12 years in power by an extraordinary coalition agreement between his former protégé, right-wing politician and current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as centrist, left-wing and Arab political parties.

Barkat, who has said he aspires to become prime minister at the head of Likud, said the legislation he introduced to the Knesset against new consulates for Palestinians in Jerusalem is intended to disrupt US plans to reopen its mission.

“It is common in the world that if a country sees that there is legislation [in] process, we don’t force ourselves until the end. My expectation, which is a common thing, [is] that now the United States understands that there is a legislative process on an issue that 75% of the Israeli public supports. You don’t rush to decide until this process is finalized, ”he said.

Barkat cited a poll he commissioned from the Israeli public and viewed by The Hill, which found that about 72 percent of Israeli voters oppose opening a US consulate to Palestinians in Jerusalem, while 23, 4% support this decision and 4.5% are undecided.

Barkat said he rounded up to 75 percent by “winning” undecided voters. The survey of more than 500 people was carried out by the polling firm Direct Polls in mid-July.

The time of Israel reported that Barkat’s bill has 38 co-sponsors, including at least one member of the ruling coalition government, but is unlikely to move forward without additional support from members of the majority.

Ilan Goldenberg, senior researcher and director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security, called Barkat’s legislative move a “heavy-handed approach” in an attempt to undermine the Biden administration’s goal of reopen the consulate while also aiming to put pressure on the ruling coalition in Israel.

“I think honestly it’s more about the opposition Israeli politicians playing politics and trying to put the new government in a difficult position on an issue where they know the United States has strong feelings. “, did he declare.

“The Biden administration recognizes that this is a sensitive issue for the Israeli government, it is a sensitive political issue. But I think bringing this legislation forward two months after the United States expressed this interest is not at all a useful step. ”

Several countries have consulates in Jerusalem and are used to establish relations with the Palestinians, including the UK, France, Sweden, Italy and the Vatican, to name a few. Like the United States, many of them were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries before the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Barkat said his legislation was aimed at preventing the creation of new consulates. He said he had held at least eight meetings with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill as he sought support.

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