Jerusalem (CNN)Sitting next to the Israeli Foreign Minister in Washington this October, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was clear: The Americans want to re-open their consulate in Jerusalem to serve Palestinians.
Israel doubles down against US, saying there is no room in Jerusalem for an American Consulate for Palestinians
"We'll be moving forward with the process of opening a consulate as part of deepening of those ties with the Palestinians," Blinken said at the State Department.
Less than a month later, Israel's political leadership was also clear: it has no plans to approve such a consulate (the host country must approve any new foreign consulate).
Asked by CNN at a press conference Saturday evening about US intentions, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his government had presented its opinion to the Americans "clearly and openly."
"There is no room for another American consulate in Jerusalem. We always present our position quietly without drama and we expect it to be understood. Jerusalem is the capital of one state and that's the state of Israel," Bennett said, standing alongside Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman. "I'm sure our American friends and us will continue to collaborate on a long list of big things."
Lapid, who sat next to Blinken as he made those comments in Washington last month, echoed Bennett's sentiments, adding that if the Americans want to open a consulate for Palestinians in Ramallah, they would be welcome to do so.
"As for the (US) consulate, as we both said it is not about politics and political stability. It is the State of Israel refusing in principle that a consulate be opened in Jerusalem," Lapid said.
Former President Donald Trump folded the consulate in 2019, merging it into the new American embassy in Jerusalem after moving it from Tel Aviv when the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. For many Palestinians, an American consulate in Jerusalem is a precursor to what they hope will one day be an American Embassy in East Jerusalem, capital of a potential future state of Palestine.