U.S. to merge its Jerusalem Embassy and Consulate General into one mission

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo instructed Washington’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to merge the U.S. Consulate General and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem into a single diplomatic mission. The move, according to the top American diplomat, aims to achieve significant efficiencies and increase Washington’s diplomatic effectiveness. While the merge of the two diplomatic missions enforces President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain the United States embassy in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, Secretary Pompeo underscored that the move “does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.” The Secretary of State emphasized that “the United States continues to take no position on final status issues,” vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “including boundaries or borders.” Rather, Pompeo clarified, “as the President proclaimed in December of last year,” Washington’s position remains that “The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between,” Israel and the Palestinians. While the Israeli Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the American decision, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced the move as “a further step in trying to dictate the results of negotiations.” Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat said that “The American State Department decision to merge the consul to the so-called embassy is a further step in trying to dictate the results for the negotiations and to move from negotiations to dictations. It is part of the so called the deal of the century, meaning they want to take off Jerusalem off the table, refugees and settlement off the table and it has being dictated by a group of extremist ideologues in the U.S. administration.”