Palestinian Leaders Angered As U.S. Moves Main Diplomatic Mission

Monday, 11 Mar, 2019

Right? Just as the USA has its embassy to Israel, the US had its own independent mission of diplomats who met with Palestinian leaders and officials and reported back to Washington on what was happening in the Palestinian territories.

The move also fueled suspicions that the USA was recognizing Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories that Palestinians seek for a future state. "We will also engage in a wide range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem, through a U.S. Embassy Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU), which will operate from our historic Agron Road location in Jerusalem".

But, as the State Department said, the move changes nothing and said the "efficiency and effectiveness" of its critical work helping all in Israel will be enhanced by a larger team of diplomats.

For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. They say Jerusalem's status should be determined by peace talks.

The controversial closure of the United States diplomatic mission which has served Jerusalem for more than 175 years was on Monday branded a "political assault" on the Palestinian people.

Karen Sasahara, the Consul General, is out, and the new unit reports directly to US Ambassador David Friedman, who has supported Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has preemptively rejected the plan, accusing the US of bias toward Israel.

"Though the United States said the merger was meant for bureaucratic efficiency, Malaysia views that it is nothing more than a smokescreen trying to camouflage what is essentially opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem", it said in the statement. "It has something to do with the attempt to dictate a solution on us as Palestinians".

Abington said that "the effect on our ability to deal with the Palestinians is being greatly damaged". It also saluted the Palestinian-Arab-Islamic stand, which was restated in the decisions of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation following their meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Israel occupied mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the global community. And we've seen ties between the USA and Palestinians deteriorate.