Senators and GOP Reps Slam Biden’s Plan to Turn Jerusalem Embassy’s Palestinian Affairs Unit into an ‘Unofficial Consulate’ | The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com | Hana Levi Julian | 25 Sivan 5782 – June 23, 2022

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Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump reveal a dedication plaque during the official opening ceremony of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018.

Republican members of Congress and the Senate banded together to thwart a Biden administration plan to upgrade the Palestinian Affairs Unit at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, just weeks before the president’s planned trip Joe Biden in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia.

The statement, released Thursday and endorsed by more than 80 lawmakers, was led by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Congressmen Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

Lawmakers accused the Biden administration of opening “what amounts to a separate US diplomatic office for Palestinians in the Israeli capital.”

The Trump administration implemented the longstanding Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and closing the US Consulate General for Palestinians in Jerusalem. The functions of the consulate were merged into the United States Embassy’s “Palestinian Affairs Unit” within a diplomatic mission under the authority of the United States Ambassador to Israel.

The Biden administration now intends to remove the Palestinian Affairs Unit – currently part of the embassy – from the chain of command that leads to the US ambassador to Israel. Instead, he plans to rename the Unit to the “US Office of Palestinian Affairs,” which would then, in effect, serve as an unofficial US consulate for Palestinian Authority citizens in Jerusalem.

“This decision is completely inconsistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which Congress has repeatedly passed and reaffirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support over the years,” the lawmakers said in the statement.

“The Biden administration’s disregard for this law, however, undermines our nation’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and signals its support for the division of Jerusalem.

“Let there be no misunderstanding: this unprecedented arrangement – to transform the Palestinian Affairs Unit into a ‘US Office of Palestinian Affairs’ which will no longer report to the US Ambassador to Israel but will report directly of the State Department in Washington, DC, and to appoint a special envoy to the Palestinians – is an effort to open an unofficial and de facto US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“In fact, the Biden administration admits that this decision is a step closer to opening an official American consulate, a plan it refuses to stop despite the Israeli government’s adamant opposition and the admission of the Assistant Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon to Congress in October 2021 that the United States, under international law, “should obtain the consent of the host government to open any diplomatic facility,” the lawmakers said.

“The Biden administration’s decision is wrong and not the way America should treat Israel, one of our closest allies around the world.

“As sponsors of the 2021 Continuation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to suspend funding for a US consulate to Palestinians in the Israeli capital, we unequivocally oppose the decision of the Biden administration and will use every tool at our disposal to stop him during the 117th Congress and beyond.”

Led by Hagerty, 34 senators signed the joint statement. Led by Zeldin, 55 House members also signed it.

Senators who signed the statement include:
Thom Tillis (NC), Marco Rubio (FL), Bill Cassidy (LA), Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Lee (UT), John Hoeven (ND), Chuck Grassley (IA), Tim Scott (SC), Cindy Hyde -Smith (MS), Roger Marshall, MD (KS), John Cornyn (TX), Roger F. Wicker (MS), Steve Daines (MT), Josh Hawley (MO), John Barrasso (WY), Tom Cotton (AR ), Rick Scott (FL), Mike Braun (IN), Kevin Cramer (ND), Deb Fischer (NE), Todd Young (IN), James Lankford (OK), Joni K. Ernst (IA), John Kennedy (LA ), Ron Johnson (WI), Lindsey O. Graham (SC), Ben Sasse (NE), James M. Inhofe (OK), Tommy Tuberville (AL), Cynthia M. Lummis (R-WY), James Risch (R -ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Members of Congress who signed the statement include:
David Kustoff (TN-08), Steve Scalise (LA-01), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Rick W. Allen (GA-12), Brian Babin (TX-36), Troy Balderson (OH-12), Jim Banks (IN-03), Andy Barr (KY-06), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Mike Bost (IL-12), Ken Buck (CO-04), Ted Budd (NC-13), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Jake Ellzey (TX-06), Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03), Andrew Garbarino (NY-02), Mike Garcia (CA-25), Bob Good (VA-05), Garret Graves (LA-06), H. Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Michael Guest (MS-03), French Hill (AR-02), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Young Kim (CA-39), Doug Lamborn (CO -05), Bob Latta (OH-05), Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), Nancy Mace (SC-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02), Ralph Norman (SC -05), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), John Rose (TN-06), Chip Roy (TX-21), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Chris Smith (NJ -04), Jason Smith (MO-08), Michelle Steel (CA-48), Greg Steube (FL-17), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Tom Tiffany (WI-07), David Valadao (CA-21), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Dan Webster (FL-11) and Steve Womack (AR-03).

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