US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the Biden administration intends to press ahead with its plan to reopen the Jerusalem consulate that traditionally engaged with Palestinians, despite Israeli opposition to the move.
Mr Blinken reiterated a pledge he made months ago to re-establish the consulate, which had long been a base for diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians before it was closed by President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, in 2018.
“We'll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening those ties with the Palestinians,” Mr Blinken said at the State Department.
At a Washington news conference with visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Mr Blinken stopped short of setting a date for reopening the consulate.
The Biden administration has sought to repair relations with the Palestinians that were badly damaged under Mr Trump.
The Trump administration signalled support for Israel's claim on Jerusalem as its capital in 2018 by moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv and subsuming the consulate in that mission.
Some critics said Mr Trump had promoted Arab rapprochement with Israel while ignoring Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
The Biden administration says it will reopen the consulate while leaving the embassy in place.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a nationalist at the helm of a cross-partisan coalition, opposes Palestinian statehood.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem – captured by Israel in a 1967 war, with the West Bank and Gaza Strip – as capital of the state they seek.
Mr Blinken was responding to a question after a trilateral meeting that marked the latest sign of the Biden administration’s embrace of the Abraham Accords, which were widely seen as a diplomatic success for Mr Trump.