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U.S. Closes Jerusalem Consulate Serving Palestinians
(Wall Street Journal)Israel cheers move, while Palestinian officials call it another blow to aspirations for an independent state
By
Felicia Schwartz
Updated Oct. 18, 2018 1:18 p.m. ET

TEL AVIV—The Trump administration said it would merge its Jerusalem consulate responsible for relations with the Palestinians into its newly relocated U.S. Embassy there, another symbolic blow to American-Palestinian relations.

The consulate in Jerusalem has functioned essentially as an embassy to the Palestinians. It was separate from the operations of the U.S. Embassy, which stewarded relations with the Israelis from Tel Aviv until May, when President Trump moved it to Jerusalem to fulfill a campaign promise.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said the consulate closure was aimed at efficiency and wasn’t a policy change. He said a newly created Palestinian Affairs unit will operate out of the old consulate building, conducting reporting, outreach and programming with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.

Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy and a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., welcomed the move on Twitter, calling it a great day for Israel, Jerusalem and the U.S.

Senior Palestinian officials called it another blow to their aspirations for an independent state.

“The Trump administration is making clear that it is working together with the Israeli government to impose greater Israel rather than the two-state solution on the 1967 borders,” said Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s secretary-general. “The U.S. administration has fully endorsed the Israeli narrative, including on Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.”

Palestinian officials have cut off contact with the Trump administration since December, when Mr. Trump said he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

More recently, the Trump administration has also ceased funding the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency, closed the PLO office in Washington and permanently suspended bilateral assistance to the Palestinians.