U.S. shutting down consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi speaks during a summit

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The announcement also does away, for all intents and purposes, with the idea that President Trump was planning to turn the consulate into a USA embassy in a new Palestinian State whose capital would be eastern Jerusalem.

Asked if the USA government is anticipating security concerns in either Jerusalem or in the Palestinian controlled areas, the senior State official said there was no "imminent or particular threat" but that the safety of Americans overseas is the highest priority.

Mike Pompeo said the decision was made for efficiency reasons and did not signal a change of policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. "The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties".

Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said the decision to "end the existence of the US Consulate" would "reward Israeli violations and crimes".

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"[The] Trump administration is making clear that it is working together with the Israeli government to impose Greater Israel rather than the two-state solution on the '67 border", he said in a statement.

President Donald Trump said last month that a proposal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians should be ready by January.

In December of previous year, President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, since 1995 it has been US law to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, mandates that the Trump Administration has boldly implemented.

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.

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Since he became US ambassador to Israel, Friedman, a longtime supporter and fundraiser for the West Bank settlement movement, had argued he should have authority over the consulate, which for decades has operated differently than nearly every other USA consulate around the world.

In remarks to The New York Times, Daniel C. Kurtzer, an ex-envoy to Israel under Republican and Democratic administrations, said the Trump administration's decision regarding its mission for Palestinians in the occupied territories would certainly be counterproductive.

The status of Jerusalem - home to sites holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians - is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"For decades, the Palestinians have manipulated worldwide bodies, not least the United Nations, to advance their agenda of seeking to isolate and delegitimise the State of Israel", he said.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed the idea of moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking widespread debate over the issue. His willingness to reverse decades of foreign policy and follow the lead of the United States alienated many of Australia's Asian neighbours that have close alliances with Palestinians. After that, a number of other countries also chose to consider the possibility.

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