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Zev Chafets

East Jerusalem Consulate Is a Fight Biden Doesn’t Need

Reopening a U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem would only anger Israel and many within the president’s own party at home. 

No room for two embassies, Israelis say.

No room for two embassies, Israelis say.

Photographer: David Silverman/Getty Images Europe

The Biden administration wants to reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem to serve Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel is determined not to let that happen. The disagreement has the potential to turn into a genuine crisis.

The East Jerusalem consulate has long been seen in Israel as a nemesis and an advocate for the agenda of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. A de facto U.S. embassy to the Palestinians, the consulate also stood as a brick-and-mortar symbol of America’s refusal to accept Israeli sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem or to formally recognize it as Israel’s capital. That policy ended in 2018, when the Trump Administration accepted Israel’s claim to the united city and moved the U.S. embassy there. For Israel, this was the fulfilment of a national dream as well as a resounding diplomatic success.