Two hundred Republicans in Congress sent a letter on Monday to President Joe Biden asking him to keep the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem closed, instead of reopening it to engage with Palestinians.
''Your administration would create a misguided situation in which the U.S. would essentially have two separate diplomatic missions in Israel's capital, including the U.S. Embassy to Israel along with the consulate general for outreach to the Palestinians whose government is based in Ramallah,'' the letter said.
''Reopening the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem would also reward and turn a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority engaging in the real obstacles to peace, such as refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State.''
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Oct. 13 that the Biden administration was moving forward with plans to reopen the shuttered consulate, which was closed in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump after he opened a new embassy in Israel's capital city, Reuters reported at the time.
''We'll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening of those ties with the Palestinians," Blinken said in the Reuters story.
On Oct. 24, an Israeli official told Reuters that the move might be shelved by Biden's administration for the time being.
"I believe that I have good reason to think this will not happen," Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll told Israel's Ynet TV on Oct. 24. "The Americans understand the political complexity. We have very good relations. ... We don't believe in surprising them. I don't think they will try to surprise us."
The consulate was absorbed into the U.S. Embassy that Trump moved from Tel Aviv in line with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, an effort to recognize Israel's capital that had congressional approvals in the following years but stalled on its implementation until Trump took office in 2017.
''In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that city — and so importantly — is Israel's capital,'' Trump said in a statement at the time.
''This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago. Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law's waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital city.''
The letter from the GOP lawmakers said that Biden should respect Israel's opposition to reopening the consulate, which they feel would ''turn a blind eye'' to Palestinian terrorist activities.
''We urge you to respect our close ally Israel's opposition to the reopening of the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem, especially since Israel's cooperation is essential,'' the letter said.
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