US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is advocating for having the embassy in Jerusalem subsume the consulate in East Jerusalem.
For decades, the East Jerusalem consulate has operated differently than almost every other consulate around the world. Rather than reporting to the US Embassy in Israel, it has reported directly to the State Department in Washington, giving the Palestinians an unfiltered channel to engage with the US government.
President Donald Trump is considering giving US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman more authority over the US outpost that handles Palestinian affairs, five US officials said.
Any move to downgrade the autonomy of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem — responsible for relations with the Palestinians — could have potent symbolic resonance, suggesting American recognition of Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank. And while the change might be technical and bureaucratic, it could have potentially significant policy implications.
As president, Trump has departed from traditional US insistence on a “two-state solution” for the Mideast conflict by leaving open the possibility of just one state. As his administration prepares to unveil a long-awaited peace plan, the Palestinians have all but cut off contact, enraged by Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
The deliberations come as Friedman, who has pushed for changes to the consulate since he arrived in Israel last year, faces growing indignation in the US over partisan comments and other actions in which he has publicly sided with Israel over its critics. On Thursday, a top Democratic lawmaker even suggested Friedman should be recalled after he waded into domestic US politics on Israel’s behalf, telling an Israeli newspaper that Democrats have failed to support Israel as much as Republicans.