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US to set up an ‘outreach building’ in East Jerusalem

December 3, 2020 at 3:56 pm

US Embassy in Jerusalem [Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images]

The US government has revealed plans to open an “outreach building” in occupied East Jerusalem to improve relations with Palestinians.

According to the Jerusalem Post, senior US officials claim that the office will not be a consulate or offer similar facilities.

“There is one American diplomatic mission in Israel – the US Embassy – and it is based in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital,” said a senior embassy official.

Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and moved the US embassy to the occupied city from Tel Aviv the following year.

The move upset the Arab world and Western allies. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called it a “slap in the face” and said the US can no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.

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“Our plan to open an outreach building in east Jerusalem has been in the works for years and it is designed solely to improve our contacts among our Jerusalem neighbours. It is not a separate consulate nor does it have the facilities of a consulate – and we have no plans to make it one,” the official added.

US President-elect Joe Biden had initially opposed the US embassy move to Jerusalem, but has already stated he has no intention of moving it back to Tel Aviv.

His administration plans to reopen the US consulate in occupied East Jerusalem to serve Palestinians, as well as the PLO’s mission in Washington which was shut down by the Trump administration.