Merge carried out on Monday morning; Friedman to oversee affairs in Israel, West Bank and Gaza; US State Department: Merge does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.
The United States officially merged the US Consulate in Jerusalem with the US Embassy on Monday.
The US State Department confirmed the Consulate General, which has served the Palestinian population to date, merged with the embassy on Monday morning, releasing a statement, “There will be complete continuity of US diplomatic activity and consular services during and after the merger. We will continue to conduct all of the diplomatic and consular functions previously performed by US Embassy Jerusalem, through a US Embassy Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU)…”
Announcing it would be creating a larger team, the US State Department explained the reasons for the merge, clarifying that the “decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations,” and does not “signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in October of last year which led to condemnation from the Palestinian Authority. US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, will now oversee affairs in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The merge falls ahead of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” which will be published following Israel’s elections in April. On the upcoming peace deal, the US State Department stated, “As the President has stated, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders. The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties. The Administration remains fully committed to efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians.”
President Trump’s senior advisor, Jared Kushner, special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, and envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, recently finished a tour in the Middle East centered on promoting Trump’s peace deal. The tour included stops in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Kushner confirmed following a meeting with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman that the peace deal will address borders, as well as confirmed that the economic benefits of the deal would not only support Israel and the Palestinians, but also Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.
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