Last updated on: March 04, 2019 2:20 AM
FILE – Palestinian activist place a t-shirt with a logo representing their statehood bid at the UN underneath the US Consulate sign during a small pro-state rally, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel.
The United States is shutting down its consulate in Jerusalem, which served the Palestinians, and will merge its entire diplomatic mission to the new embassy starting Monday.
“It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip,” the State Department said in a statement released Sunday. “This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in October. It infuriated the Palestinians who see closing the office that served them and moving it to the embassy as another sign of the Trump administration’s pro-Israel bias.
Senior Palestinian Saab Ekekat called the decision “the final nail in the coffin” for the U.S. as a Middle East peacemaker.
But, as the State Department said, the move changes nothing and said the “efficiency and effectiveness” of its critical work helping all in Israel will be enhanced by a larger team of diplomats.
Palestinians were outraged when the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, calling it a recognition of the city as the capital of a Jewish state.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. They say Jerusalem’s status should be determined by peace talks.
The State Department said President Donald Trump takes no position on final status issues and remains fully committed to efforts toward a lasting peace between Jews and Palestinians.