Palestinians angry at US decision to merge Jerusalem consulate with new embassy

Washington – The US will merge the US Consulate General, which serves Palestinians, with its new embassy in Israel into a single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, drawing a quick rebuke from Palestinians.

“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” Pompeo said in a statement. “It does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.”

US President Donald Trump outraged the Arab world and stoked international concern by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

The consulate general in Jerusalem is the top mission for Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem for their capital.

Pompeo said the US would establish a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the embassy in Jerusalem to continue reporting, outreach and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Senior Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat denounced the decision to eliminate the consulate as the latest evidence the Trump administration is working with Israel to impose a “Greater Israel” rather than a two-state solution.

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