By Adina Katz, World Israel News
The Biden administration will postpone the reopening of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem until after the new Israeli government passes a budget, American news site Axios reported Wednesday based on Israeli, American and Palestinian sources.
The budget will likely be passed in early November.
According to Axios, it matters because “the decision shows how invested the Biden administration is in helping to stabilize the new Israeli government. The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry had requested the delay.”
In 2019, the U.S., under the Trump administration, closed its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel.
The consulate had served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Since its closure, the services have been handled by a Palestinian Affairs unit within the embassy.
The U.S. said the move was meant to improve efficiency, but Palestinian leaders were infuriated, seeing it as recognizing Israel’s control over all of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Likud MK Nir Barkat, former mayor of Jerusalem, is working to prevent the consulate’s reopening. He flew to the U.S. on Thursday to speak with members of Congress about the issue.
Barkat told Channel 12 ahead of the trip that preventing the reopening of a Palestinian consulate in Israel’s capital city was critical for the “unification of Jerusalem.”
“Before we know it, there will be all sorts of European consulates in Jerusalem, and it will turn into the consular capital for the Palestinians,” he said.
The Biden administration has reportedly been pressuring Prime Minister Naftali Bennett not to object to the reopening.