Washington Examiner: Mike Pompeo merges Jerusalem embassy with outpost to Palestinians18 October 2018 | 18:39 | FOCUS News Agency
“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” Pompeo said. “It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.”
He stressed that point to counter the apparent symbolism of the merger, which combines the embassy and the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. Through the decades in which the United States did not maintain an embassy in Jerusalem, in deference to the stalemated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the consulate served as the point of contact between the U.S. government and Palestinian officials.
"They don't want to deal with the U.S. embassy to Israel as their channel,” Daniel Shapiro, who served as ambassador to Israel under former President Barack Obama, told CBS in June. "They want their voice to be heard directly in Washington.”
Pompeo, perhaps seeking to maintain continuity through the change, will have the facility that currently functions as a consulate to continue to house the main U.S.-Palestinian diplomatic team in Jerusalem.
“We will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside U.S. Embassy Jerusalem,” he said. “The administration is strongly committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians. We look forward to continued partnership and dialogue with the Palestinian people and, we hope in the future, with the Palestinian leadership.”
That announcement comes as Australian officials debate a proposal to follow Trump’s lead in moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“We’re committed to a two-state solution, but frankly it hasn’t been going that well, not a lot of progress has been made, and you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday, according to the Times of Israel.
But Pompeo stressed that the merger doesn’t preclude any negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians over their respective borders in a future two-state solution.
“As the president proclaimed in December of last year, the United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders,” he said. “The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”
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