United States to merge Jerusalem consulate general with new embassy

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer with Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee reemphasized its support for a two-state solution on Thursday as the Trump administration nears completion of a peace proposal that might stop short of recommending the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US diplomatic mission in occupied territories, which deals with Palestinians, is being merged into the controversial new embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The United States downgraded its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians on Thursday, placing it under the authority of the U.S. embassy to Israel. In its place, American relations with the West Bank and Gaza will now be managed by a "Palestinian Affairs Unit" that will report to David Friedman, the ambassador, who has been an ally of the right-wing Israeli government, a friend of the Jewish settlement movement and a critic of the Palestinians.

Pompeo said in the statement that the USA has "taken no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders".

"The United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders", he said.

The move was quickly condemned by the Palestinians and it could leave the U.S. as the only major power without a specific representative office dedicated to the Palestinians.

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In December 2017, United Nations member states voted decisively at the General Assembly in favour of a resolution effectively declaring USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital to be "null and void" and demanding it be cancelled.

"Palestinians reject this arrangement", he said.

"The US decision to end the existence of the US Consulate. has nothing to do with "efficiency" and a lot to do with pleasing an ideological US team that is willing to disband the foundations of American Foreign Policy, and of the worldwide system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes", he said in a statement.

Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think-tank said Thursday's announcement meant that the U.S. would be the only major power without a separate, independent representative office for the Palestinians.

"The Trump Administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution", he added in a statement.

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Israel seized control of east Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war in a move never recognised by the global community.

"Frankly the U.S.is making it clear that they have no interest to declare separate Palestinian sovereignty", head of the Arab American Institute James Zogby said, "They ought to hang a welcome sign that says "welcome to the one-state solution" over the door".

Despite the vote, the United States went ahead with the embassy transfer on May 14, triggering angry protests in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere in the world. "He is practically saying Jerusalem is for Israel".

In addition, it has shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington, revoking the visas of all Palestinian representatives.

Lauder, who is no longer on good terms with his former friend Benjamin Netanyahu, was sent behind the backs of Trump's other peace envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.

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