US closes Jerusalem consulate, demotes Palestinian mission

The downgrade is the latest of Trump administration's decisions that have backed Israel and alienated the Palestinians

Photo: AFP The US consulate in Jerusalem

The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the US Embassy to Israel. For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy.

The symbolic shift hands authority over U.S. diplomatic channels with the West Bank and Gaza to ambassador David Friedman, a longtime supporter and fundraiser for the West Bank settler movement and fierce critic of the Palestinian leadership.
The announcement from the State Department came early Monday in Jerusalem, the merger effective that day.

 "This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. "It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip."

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