President Joe Biden is bowing to the radical left and attempting to open a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to divide the city and reverse President Donald Trump’s major foreign policy achievement of recognizing Israeli sovereignty there.
That’s the assessment of international legal expert Eugene Kontorovich, who notes that if all Biden wanted to do was to establish closer connections with the Palestinians, he could put a consulate in Ramallah, as some other nations have done.
But that is not the point: Biden wants to undo Trump’s success, which not only fulfilled a decades-old promise (one Biden himself voted to make U.S. law), but also failed to result in the catastrophe that the foreign policy establishment predicted.
Kontorovich wrote in an op-ed Thursday in Israel Hayom that Biden is acting out of spite toward the foreign president, and bowing to the radical left — including hard-core anti-Israel (and antisemitic) politicians like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MI):
The US is pushing to open up a new diplomatic office in Jerusalem – one that would be directed to the Palestinian Authority. The US Embassy in Jerusalem already provides consular services to the Palestinians. It is unheard of to have an independent consulate in the same city where a country has an embassy. The point of creating a separate consulate is to undermine former US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. But under international law, the US would need Israel’s permission for this move.
The US does not want to open a consulate merely to have a place for diplomatic liaisons with the PA. If that is all they wanted, they could easily do this by opening a mission in Abu Dis or Ramallah – where most other countries conduct their relations with the PA. Or they could reopen the Palestinian mission in Washington, DC, which Trump also closed. But by instead demanding that Israel accede to a consulate in Jerusalem, the administration is showing this is not just about having a convenient place for coffee with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Indeed, the purpose of opening the consulate is to recognize Palestinian claims to Jerusalem. If the PA has no legitimate claim to Jerusalem, there can be no reason to have a consulate there. To be sure, this is why opening the consulate is the main Israel-related policy demand of radically anti-Israel Rep. Ilhan Omar. Point of fact, former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro made clear before the last US election that opening a separate consulate to the Palestinians would be designed to signal US support for a Palestinian capital in that city.
It is true that the US had a consulate in Jerusalem since 1844, which was separate from the embassy. But that is because the US had not recognized Jerusalem as even being in Israel (and obviously that consulate was established with any relation to the Palestinians). When Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital and moved the embassy, he had to close the consulate because its separate existence was simply inconsistent with this recognition. Opening the consulate would turn the clock back to before the US recognition of Jerusalem. The Biden administration knows it does not have domestic support to completely unrecognize Jerusalem – so it is catering to far-left demands by undoing the natural consequences of recognition.
Kontorovich notes that international law gives Israel the right to deny the U.S. permission to open a diplomatic mission. If Biden presses the issue, Israel – protecting the unity of its capital, a vital national security interest — may be compelled to deny the U.S. diplomatic visas, consular license plates, and even security protection.
Biden would send U.S.-Israel relations to their lowest level ever — and open up new conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, rather than promoting peace.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new novel, Joubert Park, tells the story of a Jewish family in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid era. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, recounts the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.