US Jerusalem consulate merger draws Palestinian anger

US Jerusalem consulate merger draws Palestinian anger

However, the announcement follows the U.S. closure of the Palestinian Authority's mission in Washington DC in September.

In December, President Trump upended decades of US foreign policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

A State Department official, however, confirmed that the role of USA consul general will cease to exist and its current head will return to Washington.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat issued a statement on Thursday decrying the United States move, he said: "it has nothing to do with efficiency and a lot to do with pleasing an ideological USA team that is willing to disband the foundations of (the) global system".

He said the U.S. has effectively killed the two-state solution that envisioned an independent Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel.

Friedman's push picked up steam in May after the Trump administration moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem over the vehement objections of the Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the holy city as the capital of an eventual state.

In a statement, US secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "We will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the US Embassy Jerusalem".

The Palestinian leadership condemned Washington's decision.

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In December 2017, United Nations member states voted decisively at the General Assembly in favour of a resolution effectively declaring USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital to be "null and void" and demanding it be cancelled.

Worldwide powers have for decades maintained separate and autonomous representations to Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of supporting the eventual creation of an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinians accuse the Trump administration of siding with Israel and since the Jerusalem announcement have refused to meet with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the White House's point men on Israeli-Palestinian issues.

They have insisted the status of Jerusalem, which both the Israelis and Palestinians see as their capital, should be negotiated between the parties.

Trump's embassy move represented a significant break in USA policy on the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinians have argued it endangered a two-state peace solution.

Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think-tank said Thursday's announcement meant that the USA would be the only major power without a separate, independent representative office for the Palestinians. The consulate has been unusual in that it operates as the de facto American representative to the Palestinian Authority.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday that he had been considering doing the same - a potential move which, if enacted, would make Australia the largest country since the U.S. to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"This step confirms that the USA recognises the entire city as Israel's capital", he said. It also announced the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington over what it said was the Palestinians' refusal to engage in peace talks with Israel.

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