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Middle East

US downgrades Jerusalem diplomatic service for Palestinians

media Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat looks on during a news conference following his meeting with foreign diplomats in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank Reuters

The United States has merged its diplomatic mission to Palestinians with its embassy in Jerusalem. The move closes the US Jerusalem consulate-general that had effectively served as an embassy to the Palestinians since the Oslo accords of the 1990s.

The US State Department website says the merger will not in any way affect US diplomatic activity or consular services.

The current building of the US consulate-general will be used as a US Embassy Palestinian Affairs Unit, which will “engage in a wide range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem, according to the press statement.

But Palestinians are not happy.

“Merging the US consulate in Jerusalem with the Israeli embassy was the last nail in the coffin of the US administration’s role in peacemaking,” says Saeb Erekat, Secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee.

Quoted by the Palestine News Network, Erekat said that that the US consulate “has worked for 175 years in Jerusalem, Palestine,” adding that its closure by the US administration was “an expression of a fanatical ideology that rejects the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”

The change means Washington's relations with the Palestinians will now fall under the authority of US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who has been a supporter of Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian leaders froze contact with the White House after US President Donald Trump's 2017 decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital city.

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