Israeli Lawmaker Seeks To Outlaw Opening of U.S. Mission in the Eastern Jerusalem

An aerial view of Jerusalem Temple Mount.
Jerusalem Temple Mount. An aerial view.(AFP)

An Israeli Conservative party legislator is seeking to outlaw the planned reopening of a U.S. mission in Eastern Jerusalem.

Israel’s new cross-partisan government led by nationalist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also opposes the reinauguration of the consulate, potentially buoying Likud lawmaker Nir Barkat’s effort to scupper the move, though it would strain relations with Washington.

Mr. Barkat argues that the launching diplomatic mission will lead to the facilitating divisions in Israeli society, not mending. Such a mission will be excuse for radicals to claim rights to Eastern Jerusalem that is a capital of undivided Jewish state, Mr. Barket stated.

The consulate was subsumed into the U.S. Embassy that was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018 by then-U.S. President Donald Trump, steps hailed by Israel and condemned by Arabs.

With an eye towards the so-called repairing U.S. relations with the Arabs, Mr. Biden’s administration says it will reopen the consulate while leaving the embassy in place.

Mr. Barkat’s legislation, filed in parliament last month and with voting as yet unscheduled, would outlaw opening a foreign mission in Jerusalem without Israel’s consent.

"Maintain Unity of Jerusalem City"

I think that the current Israeli government is weak. It depends on the left, it depends on radicals on our side, he told media. We must do everything we can to maintain the unity of the city of Jerusalem, he added.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a 1967 war along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as capital of the state they seek.

Mr. Ahmed Al-Deek, adviser to the PLO foreign ministry, said Barkat “represents the position of far-right parties in Israel which seek to block any chance of reaching a two-state solution”.

Mr. Barkat said polling showed some 70 per cent public support for the bill – enough to garner votes from within the coalition. Asked for Mr. Bennett’s position, his spokesman cast the bill as a PR stunt, saying: “We don’t comment on trolling.”

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