U.S. shutting down consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

An edited version of this piece appeared in the Melbourne Age on October 19, 2018.

Member of the Knesset Michael Oren, who serves as deputy minister of diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office, said Israel is "deeply grateful".

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognised internationally, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Morrison said the United Nations resolution "seeks to confer an official status" on the PA "it does not have", and could therefore undermine efforts to bring the parties together to work towards a settlement.

"Every state has the right to determine where within its sovereign territory its capital should be located", he said. "He is practically saying Jerusalem is for Israel".

"In a statement released by Netanyahu's office, claimed that he spoke by phone with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morisona, and that Klose said that "considering the possibility of official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the Embassy", Reuters reports".

But as the consulate is seen as the unofficial embassy to Palestinians, the move will be interpreted as another major blow from the Trump administrations against Palestinian aspirations for an end to occupation and their hopes of a state.

In December, President Trump upended decades of us foreign policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. There, too, since Trump's announcement, imports from the U.S. have increased by 37.9%. No country's position on Israel or the Palestinians would be expected to be placed ahead of domestic national interest.

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On Wednesday, Channel Seven revealed WhatsApp messages sent on Monday between Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in which Marsudi blasted the embassy announcement. "But that shouldn't get in the way of a strong bilateral relationship".

"A great day for Israel, Jerusalem, and the United States", he wrote.

The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem on October 18, 2018. SoS Pompeo's announcement closing the United States consulate in Jerusalem and transferring its responsibilities to the embassy ends the last vestige of American support for the city's division.

Moreover, there is a strong case to be made that an Embassy move may help unlock the current peace process deadlock.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee reemphasized its support for a two-state solution on Thursday as the Trump administration nears completion of a peace proposal that might stop short of recommending the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"What both Indonesia and Australia are committed to is a two-state solution when it comes to the Middle East".

Mr Morrison floated the idea of moving the embassy on Tuesday, days out from a by-election in one of Australia's most Jewish electorates. The Iranian threat has in recent years brought about a strategic realignment in the region, particularly behind the scenes, and the Iran issue weighs far more heavily in Arab capitals than what city Israel chooses to make its own capital.

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