A US official in the State Department said yesterday that Washington would need Israel's approval before re-opening the consulate in occupied East Jerusalem for Palestinians.
Brian McKeon, the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, made the announcement during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was asked by Republican Senator, Bill Hagerty about the prospects of re-opening the consulate.
"I just want to confirm something, on the record—is it your understanding that under US and international law, the government of Israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the United States could open or re-open the US consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem?" Hagerty asked the official.
"Or does the Biden administration believe it can move forward to establish a second US mission in the Israeli capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the government in Israel?"
To which McKeon responded, "It's my understanding that we'd need to get the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility."
On Tuesday, Hagerty, along with 34 other Republicans, introduced the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021, calling on the Biden administration to uphold the 1995 Act and not to re-open the US consulate to the Palestinians following the merger with the US embassy in Israel which was controversially moved to Jerusalem in 2018 by former President Donald Trump, upending a consistent US policy on Jerusalem's status by recognising it as the undivided capital of Israel.
On Sunday, Israel's deputy foreign minister said that the Biden administration's plans to re-open the diplomatic mission may be shelved after the Israeli government voiced its opposition to the potential move.
"I believe that I have good reason to think this will not happen," Idan Roll told Israel's Ynet TV.
"The Americans understand the political complexity," he added. "We have very good relations … We don't believe in surprising them. I don't think they will try to surprise us".