Brian McKeon, the U.S. deputy Secretary of State for management and resources, said on Wednesday that Washington would need the Israeli government’s consent before reopening the consulate in East Jerusalem it once used to serve Palestinians.
McKeon said it in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was asked by Republican Senator Bill Hagerty whether Israel would have to agree to the United States’ reopening a consulate.
“That’s my understanding – that we’d need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility,” McKeon responded.
The consulate, which was closed in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, had served Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Joe Biden, who came into office in January, said he planned to reopen it in order to improve relations with the Palestinian Authority that had deteriorated during the Trump presidency.
American officials told Palestinian officials that the facility would open again after the Knesset had approved the state budget in November to ensure the survival of Israeli Prime Minster Naftali Bennett’s coalition, sources in the Palestinian Authority said earlier this month.
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The sources said it was not clear whether the consulate would operate out of its previous site on Agron Street in West Jerusalem or Nablus Road in East Jerusalem.