Israel has a real fight on its hands in resisting President Biden’s push to re-open the US consulate in Jerusalem.
The consulate was closed on 4 March 2019 - after former President – Donald Trump - had issued a Presidential Proclamation on 6 December 2017 that saw the US Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14 May 2018.
Trump’s Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo – has slammed Biden’s intention:
“I think it’s illegal. We don’t have consulates in the same city we have embassies anywhere in the world… It’s unnecessary and counterproductive, and I think, frankly, sends the wrong signal to the Palestinians as well. It signals to them back to business as usual, back to the kleptocracy, and ‘pay to slay’ and all the horrors that the Palestinian leadership and the 'West Bank' imposed on its own people as well”
Biden’s decision will certainly give added impetus to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 – passed on 23 December 2016 as then Vice President Biden was vacating his office in the White House prior to the handover of power from President Obama to President-elect Trump.
1. Reaffirmed that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterated its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3. Underlined that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
This racist resolution:
-Ignored that all Jews living in East Jerusalem before 1948 had been ethnically cleansed from there following Jerusalem’s invasion and partial conquest by Transjordan in 1948.
-Denied Jews had any right to return or take up residence there after 1967
-Failed to acknowledge that Jews had lived there for 3000 years
The Obama-Biden administration failed to veto this overtly anti-Jewish Resolution to ensure it could never be weaponised to attack Israeli policies.
The departing administration shamefully chose instead to only abstain - as then Secretary of State John Kerry – now currently serving as Biden’s United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate - explained:
“.. . the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.”
Preserving the two-state solution was more important for the Obama-Biden administration than denouncing the UN for denying Jews the right to live in East Jerusalem.
President Trump’s closure of the US Consulate in Jerusalem helped neutralise this anti-Jewish parting shot fired by Obama and Biden.
Biden’s current Secretary of State – Antony Blinken – has announced that re-opening the US Consulate in Jerusalem will serve:
”to underscore the commitment of the United States to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people”
Why does rebuilding this relationship justify consular offices separate from the US Embassy in Jerusalem for those seeking to deny Jews the right to live in East Jerusalem alongside them?
The US House of Representatives rejected Resolution 2334 by a vote of 342-80 on 5 January 2017. So should Biden – by keeping the former US Consulate doors in Jerusalem firmly and permanently closed.
Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.