Biden to keep US embassy in Jerusalem if elected

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he would keep the US embassy in Israel in Jerusalem if elected, even though he disagrees with Donald Trump's controversial 2017 decision to move it out of Tel Aviv, news wires reported.

The former vice president said the embassy should never have been moved without that decision being part of a wider Middle East peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. "But now that it's done, I would not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv," Biden told a virtual fundraising event. He also said he would reopen the US consulate in occupied East Jerusalem "to engage the Palestinians".

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most hotly contested issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel seized control of the east of the city in 1967 and later annexed it in moves never recognized by the international community.Israel considers the city its undivided capital, but Palestinians believe the east is illegally occupied and see it as the capital of their future state. 

Trump shattered the status quo when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced his decision to shift the US embassy to the holy city in December 2017.

In January this year, Trump's son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner unveiled his Middle East peace plan.  It proposes the establishment of a Palestinian capital in Abu Dis, a suburb of Jerusalem, and gives consent for the annexation of Israeli settlements as well as the Jordan Valley, Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.The Palestinians, backed by the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Union rejected the plan.

On Tuesday, the State Department said it was prepared to recognise Israel's annexation of much of the occupied West Bank, despite condemnation from the Palestinians. The European Union and several European states, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, warned Israel against the move.

Biden's foreign policy adviser, Tony Blinken, said the former vice president had been "on the record several times" saying that "unilateral steps taken by either side that make the prospect of a negotiated two-state outcome less likely is something he opposes, and that includes annexation."


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