Brigadier General (ret.) Amir Avivi, Director of Habithonistim, a group of 1,800 retired Israeli generals, officers and Mossad operatives, summs up his visit with senior members of his movement in Washington, where he spoke with senior government officials, including the issue of the consulate the Biden Administration wants to open for the Palestinian Authority in the heart of Jerusalem.
"I came out very upset from these meetings, especially from a meeting with a very senior State Department official. The impression we got is that the Biden Administration is very determined to advance the consulate, even at an aggressive level of discourse in this area. The administration feels that there is a new and inexperienced government here, perhaps even a weak one, and is trying to push its agenda," Avivi tells Arutz Sheva.
"We clarified that this is not acceptable because it is a material violation of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. Beyond that, we noted that the pressure on Israel on this issue will do nothing but create tensions, because there is no partner on the Palestinian sider. Abu Mazen will end his role at some point and the PA is expected to descend into anarchy.
Avivi was asked if his interlocutors had answers to these arguments, as well as to the constitutional arguments that Israeli law, US law and the international norms prohibit the establishment of a consulate without the consent of the host country, and he replies: "There are many claims here that we didn't accept."
"They say that in total we are returning what was, but there is a gap in the knowledge of the public who think that in total we are returning a consulate, but that is not the case. The consulate was established in the Ottoman period when no one heard of Palestinians, This is a different reality, after an embassy was established and Jerusalem was recognized as the capital of Israel, they want to introduce a consulate to another entity.
"After all the excuses are over, the last argument has come that this is an election promise of the president, and that if we are friends of the United States we will have to accept it. So first, it is not clear that there was such a choice. The State Department checked and did not find such a promise, but even if he made such a promise, the president of the United States cannot make a promise on the back of Israeli sovereignty.
"In meetings with both Democrats and Republicans, things have paid off. We saw 200 Republicans immediately afterwards sign a document saying it was against American law and opposed it. In chambers we also heard many Democrats who are unhappy with this move.
He also recounts a petition produced by his movement calling on "the public and reserve officers to sign a petition and a letter to Prime Minister Bennett to clearly oppose this move." Opinions are divided on Bennett's position on the issue. Bennett himself does not speak publicly, but remarks made by Adv. Nadav Hatzni to Arutz Sheva at the beginning of the week show that in closed talks Bennett opposes the move. In his talks in Washington, could the position of the Israeli prime minister be deciphered?
"They did not say what Bennett's position was, but what bothered me about these talks was that there was a sense that they could succeed in doing it. I do not know if it stemmed from their conversations with Lapid and I am also not sure they are both coordinated. I expect at this stage not to hear the most intense opposition, but to express his opposition loud and clear. The prime minister owes it to the public in Israel. I do not think the Americans would have pressed so hard if they did not have a feeling that they were likely to succeed."