By establishing a “US Office of Palestinian Affairs” in Jerusalem, the Biden administration announced a dramatic but partial reversal of Donald Trump’s closing of the Palestinian consulate there.
Some see Biden’s move as a reward for Palestinian leadership following a wave of terrorism in which two Palestinians with an ax and knife murdered three Israelis in Elad in May according to Fox News.
Raad Hazem, a 28-year-old Palestinian gunman from Jenin, killed three people and injured six others in a busy Tel Aviv club the month before.
The elevation of the Palestinian Affairs Unit, which was previously part of the embassy in Israel, is seen as a setback for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a top former Trump official.
“We had a consul-general in West Jerusalem for decades dedicated to Palestinian affairs, which meant Palestinians had to cross into West Jerusalem for any consular affairs related to the United States,” Victoria Coates, a former deputy national security adviser for the Middle East and North Africa under Trump, told Fox News Digital.
“Since 2018, their affairs have been handled by a proper U.S. Embassy, which also happens to be in West Jerusalem. This unnecessary change with the Palestinians will only prolong the stalemate between them and Israel and will not bring us any closer to peace than the old ConGen [consulate-general] did [before Trump].”
Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also weighed in, saying that the administration was falling back on “failed” practices.
“The Biden administration is reverting to past failed practices,” Danon told Fox News Digital. “Although the announced changes are essentially bureaucratic in nature, with amendments to names and reporting lines, it is the symbolism of the move which hits home for some. It signals an upgrade in relations with the possibility of more fruitless promises to come.
“The Abraham Accords moved beyond broken paradigms and looked for new solutions,” added Danon, who is also chairman of World Likud. “This new path has been astoundingly successful. It is perhaps time for the current U.S. administration to cast aside past failed policies and look to set new, sound strategy.”
During his tenure in office, the Trump administration assisted with negotiations of agreements that helped normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
There was been consistent opposition from the Israeli government about reopening the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem as the nation says it undercuts the holy city as an undivided capital of Israel.
Fox News Digital sent questioned the U.S. State Department, Thursday about the issue and an emailed response from a spokesperson stated that “The former Palestinian Affairs Unit is now called the Office of Palestinian Affairs (OPA). It continues to be led on the ground in Jerusalem by the Chief of the Office, George Noll.”
The statement concluded, “The OPA operates under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and reports on substantive matters directly to the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau in the State Department.