Israel says it will build new consulate outside Jerusalem in response to U.S. move

The Israeli government reacted Monday to a planned new U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem by pledging that an entirely new facility will be built instead.

“Israel and the Palestinians are partners in the peace process and we are prepared to resume negotiations,” said Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, referring to the occupied territories, which lie between Israel and the Palestinian territories. “This will not happen. Israel’s capital remains in Jerusalem, Israel will never give it up and there is no room in Jerusalem for an American Consulate for Palestinians. This process will continue until a State of Palestine is established in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Israel claims east Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital. The United States recognizes the city as the capital of Israel but regards east Jerusalem as occupied territory. U.S. President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy last December and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, leading the Palestinians to threaten to quit the peace process and then to refuse to meet with U.S. officials.

The new U.S. Consulate, scheduled to open late next year, will serve American citizens and relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s Dermer warned that the move would be particularly galling to Palestinians. “It’s as close to the Jewish Temple as you can get,” Dermer said, referring to the Dome of the Rock, an east Jerusalem site whose “Temple Mount” referred to the religious center which Palestinians say is the traditional birthplace of their prophets.

In response to the Israeli warning, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Monday that the U.S. commitment to Israel remains “unwavering.” He added that Washington remains committed to a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The United States will continue to partner with Israel in the peace process, promoting the security of the Jewish state and the establishment of a future independent Palestinian state,” Friedman said. “We will remain fully committed to that goal. We remain the sole major nation that supports the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

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