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Why Israel’s refusal to US consulate is rooted in Tel Aviv’s old fears

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Israel turned down Washington’s request to reopen its consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem to avoid bringing any legitimacy to the question of Palestinian statehood, experts say. Israelis have once again shown their contempt for any signs indicating the possibility of a Palestinian statehood by disapproving the US demand to reopen Washington’s consulate  for Palestinians in Jerusalem

The former Trump administration not only moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but also closed Washington’s consulate, which had served Palestinians for several decades. Trump's decision seemed to be in line with Tel Aviv's longstanding policy of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, rejecting a Palestinian state. 

Both moves have been widely condemned and considered to be against international law and Palestine’s right to exist as an independent sovereign nation. President Joe Biden had previously pledged to undo Trump’s consulate move, although he also said that the US embassy could still stay in Jerusalem

Israel turned down Washington’s request to reopen its consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem to avoid bringing any legitimacy to the question of Palestinian statehood, experts say. Israelis have once again shown their contempt for any signs indicating the possibility of a Palestinian statehood by disapproving the US demand to reopen Washington’s consulate  for Palestinians in Jerusalem

The former Trump administration not only moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but also closed Washington’s consulate, which had served Palestinians for several decades. Trump's decision seemed to be in line with Tel Aviv's longstanding policy of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, rejecting a Palestinian state. 

Both moves have been widely condemned and considered to be against international law and Palestine’s right to exist as an independent sovereign nation. President Joe Biden had previously pledged to undo Trump’s consulate move, although he also said that the US embassy could still stay in Jerusalem.

“Looked at from the Israeli point of view, reopening a consulate in East Jerusalem will likely be seen as a sign of weakness on the part of the [Naftali] Bennett government and the end of the good old days of Trumpism,” says Richard Falk, a prominent international law professor.  

According to the professor, Trump’s blatant approach toward Jerusalem that unabashedly favoured Israel has also been seen as an abandonment of the two-state diplomacy, which has been the main foundation of the international consensus since the Oslo Accords in 1993. 

The US consulate “symbolised an appreciation of Palestinian claims to the city” and its closure was “a blow to the prestige and effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority”, Falk tells TRT World.  

In this sense, its reopening would internationally bring back “the question as to whether Jerusalem was the 'eternal and undivided' capital of Israel, a continuing affront to the Islamic world,” says Falk.  

Israelis are furious about Biden's move as it rekindles the public criticism of the consulate issue, wasting Tel Aviv's full throttle lobbying in Washington. 

There is no room for another American consulate in Jerusalem. We always present our position quietly without drama and we expect it to be understood. Jerusalem is the capital of one state and that's the state of Israel,” said Naftali Bennett  after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed Washington’s demand to reopen its consulate to Israelis.