The Biden administration’s plans to open a separate U.S. consulate for Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem reverses recognition of the city as capital of Israel, Oren said.
A former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. has slammed the Biden administration for its push to open a separate consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinians, calling the move “anti-Semitic.”
Former MK Michael Oren told Radio 103FM that the plan was a regressive move, undoing American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which took place under the Trump administration.
Palestinians were served by a consulate in eastern Jerusalem before its closure in 2019 by former president Donald Trump, while the U.S. Embassy to Israel was located in Tel Aviv. Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, where it was merged with the U.S. consulate to the Palestinians, bringing both functions under one roof.
The Biden administration intends to partially reverse this policy, keeping the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem but setting up a separate consulate for the Palestinians in the eastern part of the capital.
“This is a pivotal reversal on American recognition of Jerusalem as our capital,” Oren said. “It effectively makes American policy similar to that of Russia, which recognizes the western part of the city as our capital, but not all of it.”
Oren dismissed the pre-2019 setup as absurd and criticized U.S. policy of the time, which opposed Jewish settlement in eastern Jerusalem, as antisemitic.
“It was a totally absurd situation. Not only are these American policies impractical, they’re antisemitic,” Oren said. “This is the only place in the world where Jews are prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods. Would anyone dare pass such a law in New York?”
Describing the previous situation, Oren added: “Basically what the Americans did is to recognize the eastern part of the city as not being part of Israel, then went on to ban Israeli Jews from living there. If you ever visited the eastern Jerusalem consulate’s website, you’d think there aren’t any Jews living in the city. There wasn’t any Hebrew there at all.”
In September, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh lauded the Biden policy of creating a separate consulate on the grounds that it would split Jerusalem.
“Why is the [U.S.] Consulate [in Jerusalem] and its opening important to us?”Shtayyeh asked in a video posted to Facebook. “Because it is the American address for taking care of the Palestinian cause, far from the embassy that the U.S. transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on the pretext that Jerusalem is one city.”
He added: “The message from this administration is that Jerusalem isn’t one city and that the American administration does not recognize the annexation of Arab Jerusalem by the Israeli side. We want the American Consulate to constitute the seed of a U.S. embassy in the State of Palestine.”
Former ambassador to the U.S. David Friedman tweeted the video, commenting: “To all who favor the opening of a U.S. Consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, at least acknowledge, as PA PM Shtayeh does, that this will lead to a division of Jerusalem, in violation of U.S. and Israeli law. It also will frustrate all efforts for peace.”
Oren’s comments come in opposition to those he made last year, when he told Arutz 7 that Biden was “deeply committed” to Israel.
“Joe Biden is one of the few politicians I know who actually likes talking to people, he is deeply committed to Israel’s security, he goes way back with us, he’s of that generation that remembers the six-day war,” Oren said during a podcast interview, adding, “With that being said, there are policy differences over the Palestinians and especially over Iran.”