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  • PLO General-Secretary Saeb Erekat at the former consulate describes the closure as “the last nail in the coffin” to peace process. March 3, 2019

    PLO General-Secretary Saeb Erekat at the former consulate describes the closure as “the last nail in the coffin” to peace process. March 3, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 March 2019

After fostering U.S.-Palestine relations for 175 years, the Trump administration definitively closes doors of Jerusalem consulate merging it with new embassy.

The United States consulate in Jerusalem will officially close its doors Monday after 175 years of fostering diplomacy between Palestinian officials and the U.S.

The consulate is merging with the controversial U.S. embassy to Israel located in the same city.

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The decision was announced last October and tens months after President Donald Trump declared that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, a move that has effectively halted decades of diplomatic efforts to find a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israel. While several Latin American countries have followed Trump’s suite, the United Nations refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The U.S. administration inaugurated its Jerusalem embassy in May on the same day that Israeli forces killed over 50 Palestinians during the 70th anniversary of the Great march of Return as they attempted to cross the border between Israel and Gaza.

U.S. Department of State spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a March 3 statement about Monday’s merger: "There will be complete continuity of U.S. diplomatic activity and consular services during and after the merger."  

The now closed Jerusalem consulate had served as the main hub for diplomatic relations between Palestinians and U.S. administrations. Palestinians will be forced to work with an entity under the management of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman who has the support of the Zionist Organization for the United States (ZOA) and advocates for Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories, according to the BBC.

Palladino added in the press release: "This decision to (merge the consulate with the Jerusalem embassy) was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations, It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip."

The spokesperson added, "The United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders. The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties."

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) disagrees. PLO General-Secretary Saeb Erekat, described the consulate closure as “the last nail in the coffin” by the Trump administration to kill the peace process, adding in a tweet that the U.S.administration move was "an expression of a fanatical ideology that rejects Palestinian people’s the right to self-determination."

 Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO central committee, said the merger, “is not an administrative decision. It is an act of political assault on Palestinian rights and identity.”

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