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Report: Israeli foreign minister misled Blinken on US consulate in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett listens during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, on 25 August 2021. [OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Washington, DC, on 25 August 2021 [OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Lack of coordination between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on the issue of reopening the US Consulate in East Jerusalem was the cause of tension between Tel Aviv and Washington, according to Israeli media on Sunday, Anadolu reports.

Israel Hayom daily said Lapid hinted to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his first call with him that Israel would OK the reopening of the consulate after passing the state budget.

"Tensions between Israel and the US over Washington's plans to reopen a key diplomatic office to the Palestinians in Jerusalem stem from a lack of coordination between Bennett and Lapid," the newspaper said, citing an informed Israeli official.

"In his conversations with Blinken, Lapid noted the government's sensitive political make-up and advised Washington to delay the move until after the Knesset passes a budget," the source said.

According to the Israeli official, Blinken agreed to postpone the reopening of the consulate till passing Israel's state budget by the Knesset.

The issue was revealed as two advisers to Bennett held talks with US officials in August where they addressed the issue.

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"In those talks, the two Israeli officials emphasized Bennett's opposition to the opening of the Palestinian consulate was a matter of principle and unrelated to political timing. Bennett would continue to oppose the move after the budget had passed, they explained," the source said, adding that the US administration was surprised and disappointed by the "inconsistent Israeli position on the issue."

"One of the reasons Blinken announced his intention of opening the consulate last week precisely when Lapid was by his side and with the knowledge Israel opposed [the move] was that Lapid had misled him," the source said.

The current Israeli government is formed by a very fragile coalition of extreme right, center, left, and Arab parties.

In May, Blinken announced that the Biden administration would be moving forward with reopening the consulate in East Jerusalem.

In 2018, the administration of former US President Donald Trump closed the consulate after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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