OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Washington is acting out of spite

Should he realize his plans to reopen the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be remembered as the Jew who divided Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on May 25, 2021. Photo by Flash90.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on May 25, 2021. Photo by Flash90.
Ariel Kahana
Ariel Kahana is a diplomatic correspondent for Israel Hayom.

If Washington follows through no its plan to forcibly open a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem, it will be the greatest humiliation Israel has ever experienced.

The Americans are well aware of Israel’s opposition to the move. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made that much clear in a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Speaking at a conference hosted by The Jerusalem Post last week, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said: “I want to be perfectly clear: We oppose it. I heard that for the president, it’s a campaign promise. For us, it’s the promise of generations.”

According to international law, the opening of a diplomatic mission or the altering of its status requires the written signature of the host country’s foreign minister—who in this case is Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid. Even if Lapid, who has sworn his allegiance to a unified Jerusalem countless times, was willing to align himself with the administration’s stance, he knows his authorization of the move would lead to the government’s collapse. That is why he has shifted to an opposing stance.

Nevertheless, with Lapid by his side, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in Washington: “We’ll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians.” Or in other words, we have decided to show contempt for Israel’s position.

Blinken has not taken such a condescending stance on Iran, the Palestinians, the Chinese, or any other U.S. partner. He is doing this out of spite toward a government that believes former prime minister and now opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu soured relations with the Democrats, and which has sought to “turn a new page” with the U.S. government.

And what do the Israelis get in return? A stinging slap in the face.

The Americans know that no country in the world has a consulate and embassy in the same city, let alone a diplomatic office for another political entity. Would anyone ever contemplate Britain operating a consulate in Washington from which it would manage its ties with Canada? There’s no such animal. Furthermore, both American and Israeli law recognize unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Americans are currently building a huge diplomatic mission in Ramallah. There is no reason why it shouldn’t serve its ties with the Palestinians. There are other suggestions for a compromise on the table, as well. For example, the Reut Group has proposed that the United States reopen the Palestinian mission closed by former President Donald Trump in Washington as compensation. The dictator that is Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is undeserving of such a prize, yet this would still be a lesser evil.

And if the U.S. administration believes it is so urgent to shove a Palestinian mission smack in the middle of that which has been the focus of the Jewish people’s yearning for millennia, they could at least show some respect and position it in Abu Dis, which is situated outside of the capital’s municipal limits. The security issues there are less serious than those in places like Kabul, for example.

Any other move would amount to U.S. discrimination against Israel. That would be a shame because discrimination against Israel would be a double-edged sword. It would be a return to the days of former U.S. President Barack Obama, when the trauma of Afghanistan was still fresh, and would see Washington once again send the message it harms its friends and is not a reliable ally.

Before he goes ahead with the move, Blinken should also call famous ice-cream makers and fellow Jews Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. They, too, did to Jerusalem and Israel something no one else had ever done before. Their actions resulted in huge financial losses and an embarrassing Axios interview that went viral and left them stammering in front of the cameras.

The Ben & Jerry’s co-founders could not explain why out of all the countries in the world, Israel alone was deserving of their harsh stance. They have been labeled anti-Semites online. Should he realize his plans, Blinken will be remembered as the Jew who divided Jerusalem, and that is not exactly a legacy to be proud of.

Ariel Kahana is a diplomatic correspondent for Israel Hayom.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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