The Trump administration is announcing Thursday that it plans to merge its consulate general in Jerusalem with the USA embassy in Israel into a single mission. Instead, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will oversee USA diplomatic ties with the Palestinians.
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.
A spokesman for the Department said, "The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians]".
Morrison announced on Tuesday that the government would consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital "without prejudice as to its final boundaries" and examine the merits of moving the embassy to the western part of the city. Senior Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat called the move the latest evidence the Trump administration is favoring Israel over a two-state solution.
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Merging the two USA diplomatic missions could pose further problems for Trump's Middle East advisory team.
Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, alongside Friedman and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, has been working for months on a still-secret peace proposal, which Palestinians fear will be overly one-sided toward Israel. He had long sought to end the Jerusalem consulate's independent status but had faced resistance from within the State Department.
The announcement of the merger drew a quick rebuke from Palestinian officials. This responsibility will now belong to a unit within the US embassy, overseen by the ambassador to Israel.
Noting that states in and outside the Middle East have exacerbated the Israeli-Palestinian discord and the intra-Palestinian divisions for their own interests, Arch. Auza urged these states to rather facilitate and sustain the peace process.
The consulate's stand-alone diplomatic mission has functioned as a quasi-embassy to a future state the Palestinians hope to establish.
"This step confirms that the USA recognizes the entire city as Israel's capital", he said. In addition, it has shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington, revoking the visas of all Palestinian representatives. He also announced the stationing of a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the US Embassy Jerusalem, through which a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem shall be conducted.
"This is an irresponsible policy that comprise the future of millions of people in the Middle East for a handful of votes in Wentworth", Australia Palestine Advocacy Network president George Browning said.