Israel doubled down in its defiance of the Trump administration over an American proposal to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In a defiant response, Israel said it would build a huge new consulate for the Palestinians – in occupied East Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem has no better place,” said Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Tzachi Hanegbi, and the government will see to it, Israel’s flagship news radio station, Army Radio, quoted him as saying.
Officials rejected President Trump’s plans to shift the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Israel would see as the capital of Israel in 1948 but which has a clear Arabic-language capital in East Jerusalem, and which the Palestinians see as their capital in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
They said that it wasn’t going to happen.
U.S. officials have indicated that the State Department has spent months preparing a plan for the United States to move its diplomatic mission to Jerusalem, whose Israelis and Palestinians see it as their capital city.
Palestinians would hate the idea.
Israel would be no less opposed.
Jewish or Arab? Israeli or Palestinian? Israelis or Palestinians?
In what amounts to a show of rejection, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition is now considering building a 200-bed consulate in occupied East Jerusalem – a huge addition to the city’s existing consular section, which currently houses four consul generals.
It would include 20 consul-generals – three in Jerusalem and three in Tel Aviv – who would run the Palestinians’ consulate in what has historically been the Palestinian occupied East Jerusalem and its historic Old City.
The decision flies in the face of a long-standing U.S. proposal that all embassies be based in Tel Aviv until a deal can be made with the Palestinians, or until Israel and the Palestinians accept Jerusalem’s final status.
Abu Maged, a spokesman for the Palestinian foreign ministry, said that it had already been informed of Israel’s new plan.
Israel is ignoring the “iron-clad commitments of the U.S. government”, he said.
Israeli media quoted a Cabinet minister as saying that Trump’s plans to move the embassy by next year were “impossible”.
Israel holds a prime minister, prime minister and president from the Likud party, which will caucus with members of the nationalist far-right and others who want the status of Jerusalem decided unilaterally.
Meanwhile, Egypt – a member of the anti-Israeli Arab League – called for a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss “complications in the Arab-Israeli peace process”.
Israel has kept Israeli military control over East Jerusalem, along with the rest of the West Bank, since its creation. It claims all of the region as its capital.
Palestinian leaders want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope to establish. Israel says East Jerusalem, which it annexes, is Israeli.
Trump’s decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sent a shockwave through the region.
In remarks that were later strongly criticized by Middle East leaders – notably Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – Mr. Trump said he intends to move the embassy sometime next year.
Mr. Abbas, who retains power in the West Bank, has repeatedly called on Israel to negotiate peace with Palestinians.