US consulate plan not Israel’s call, Israel claims

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Trump wants to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

The Israeli government has dismissed an American proposal to give the US a consulate in the occupied West Bank as an Israeli-imposed “deal of the century”, according to Israeli media.

In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said: “The US has no intention of establishing a consulate in the Palestinian Authority’s Authority and that’s that.”

The reports come amid a deteriorating US-Israeli relationship following President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

The US hopes to advance peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Trump broke with decades of US policy on Jerusalem in December by recognising the city as Israel’s capital.

The decision was widely seen as potentially prejudging any US-led peace efforts – which Mr Trump had said would restart within a year.

Joint statement

The ministry also made clear that there was no room in the conflict “for an American consulate to serve its own national interest, and particularly the US’s own interest in promoting peace” in the Middle East.

After warning against unilateral moves on Jerusalem, US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said last week that the US was open to ideas about opening an embassy.

She said they could consider whether to have an American consular facility in East Jerusalem, which is annexed by Israel.

That option would solve the problem of how to deal with some thousands of US citizens living in Israel – including thousands of Americans who identify themselves as being of Jewish origin and are born in Jerusalem.

Confronted with the idea, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said it was a “fair question” but that no decision had been made on the matter.

Media reports suggest that opening a consular office in East Jerusalem may also allow the US to open its own embassy there.

When the decision was announced, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “gift” to Israel.

“There are no rooms for an American consulate in Jerusalem and in fact we told them that right from the very beginning and not just from us, the three of us told them directly,” Mr Netanyahu told the Israel National News station.

“The relevant approach to not an American consulate but an American embassy in Jerusalem reflects the great pressure put on Israel to be an open embassy to the State of Israel.

“It did not happen, despite all the pressures and did not work because we are not Israel who make all decisions in the region, our foreign minister makes all decisions here in Israel.”

Image copyright AFP Image caption US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit Israel soon

Jerusalem’s status is an explosive issue that has been one of the obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, who want the city as the capital of their future state.

A recent report by the foreign ministry said that the Trump administration’s announcement on Jerusalem “politicised” the peace process.

It said Mr Trump’s approach to the conflict was “leading us down the wrong path”.

Tension between Israel and the US has risen since Mr Trump announced the embassy decision, with US officials blocking a visit by the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, to the US Memorial Day celebrations.

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