Palestinian official Saeb Erekat yesterday called on the diplomatic community to boycott the US Embassy in Israel’s Jerusalem office.
In a statement, Erekat called for the international community â€śnot to engage in any kind of formal relationship or collaborationâ€ť with the new Palestinian affairs unit, which will take over the responsibilities of the shuttered US consulate in Jerusalem.
Palestinians view this as a “downgrade” and a “new assault” on the peace process.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement: â€śThis decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations.â€ť
â€śIt does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.â€ť
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. In a move never recognised by the international community, it unilaterally annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as its â€śeternal and undividedâ€ť capital.
In 2016, UNESCO passed a resolution describing Jerusalem as an â€śoccupiedâ€ť city and Israel as an â€śoccupying powerâ€ť, which, under international law, has no sovereignty over the historic city.
The same resolution stated that Jerusalemâ€™s Old City was â€śentirely Palestinianâ€ť, going on to emphasise its historical â€śMuslim and Christianâ€ť identity and heritage.