Lapid Says Biden Plan to Reopen Jerusalem Consulate for Palestinians a 'Bad Idea'

Israel's foreign minister warns reopening would send 'wrong message' and could destabilize coalition, says U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan 'maybe wasn't performed in the right manner'

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at a meeting of his Yesh Atid party, July.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at a meeting of his Yesh Atid party, July.Credit: Emil Salman

Israel believes the Biden administration's plan to reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to provide diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians is a "bad idea," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday.

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Lapid cited two reasons for Israel's opposition: First, because reopening it after it was already closed would "send a wrong message," and second, because it might cause conflict within the governing coalition. "We have an interesting yet delicate structure of government and we think this might destabilize this government," he said. 

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a visit to Ramallah that the Biden administration will reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which for years served as an unofficial American diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, until its termination by the Trump administration in 2018.

President Joe Biden originally planned to reopen the consulate as part of the restoration of ties between the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority, which were cut during the Trump presidency. The consulate historically served not only the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who reside in Jerusalem, but also Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who required U.S. consular services. However, Israeli officials and sources close to the Biden administration recently said that the U.S. has been forced to slow down its plans due to a separate Biden priority — helping the fragile Israeli coalition survive its first few months in office and prevent another election. 

Lapid also addressed the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that "it didn't happen the way it was supposed to happen, and then again, it was probably the right decision, maybe that wasn't performed in the right manner."

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