Trump to grant authority over Palestinian affairs to Ambassador to Israel

The move would mean that the U.S Consulate General in Jerusalem, which handles PA affairs, will be subordinated to the new Jerusalem embassy.
Ivanka Trump at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Photo Credit: The White House

U.S President Donald Trump is looking at granting additional authorities to U.S Ambassador to Israel David Friedman over Palestinian authority affairs, five U.S officials said Friday. The move would downgrade the autonomy of U.S Consulate General in Jerusalem and it will be subordinated to the new embassy in Jerusalem. The Consulate General is responsible for all relations with the Palestinian Authority and according to former Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, this kind of move would undermine the Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

"They don’t want to deal with the U.S. embassy to Israel as their channel. They want their voice to be heard directly in Washington," Shapiro said.

The U.S Consulate General in Jerusalem is not operating in the same way U.S. consulates operate around the world. Instead of reporting to the embassy, the Jerusalem consulate reports directly to the U.S government and operates as an independent channel for the Palestinian Authority to communicate with the U.S.

A decision to transfer these authorities to the Jerusalem embassy and Ambassador David Friedman would mean that the PA will have to go through the Israel embassy in order to communicate with the U.S government. This move comes after the U.S recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the Trump's abandonment of the insistence on a Two State solution, which had already damaged the PA's faith in the U.S.

Discussions about the subject were triggered by David Friedman, who urged the expansion of the embassy's authorities since he began his term. On the other side, Friedman is criticized for being too involved with Israeli political matters, one Democrat
legislator suggested Friedman needs to be called back to the U.S.

The U.S State Department commented, "The Consulate General Jerusalem continues to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate from its historic Agron Road location."



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