The Israeli government is doubling down on its insistence that it has no room in Jerusalem to house an American consulate for Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back on a recent decision by US President Donald Trump that his administration plans to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and open it there, declaring there was no room in the city for such a mission, despite a May 1995 law that requires the United States to move its diplomatic mission to the city.
“As far as the American consulate is concerned, we have no room for it and we certainly will not receive it,” Netanyahu said on Sunday night at an event in Rehovot.
Netanyahu said his government was committed to brokering peace between the Palestinians and Israel, according to a transcript of his speech at the community night club of the Rehovot-Yavne Community Council. “There is no way to achieve it under the current circumstances.”
But the Israeli leader acknowledged that the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem had an impact on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and threatened to upend the Obama administration’s two-state goal.
“The decision to move the US embassy means there is no room for coexistence between us and the Palestinians,” he said. “This means that Israel is, among other things, the only country in the region that recognizes Jerusalem as our capital.”
Speaking on “Face the Nation” on CBS on Sunday, the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said that he expected the embassy to be in Jerusalem and that Jerusalem “should be the capital of both states, not of one state and not of the other.”
Abbas dismissed concerns about the embassy moving as “threats.”
Over the course of a tumultuous few months, Trump has made a series of tweets on the issue and, in perhaps his most direct pledge, said he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s decision could shatter decades of American policy, diplomatic recognition of the conflict and the Oslo Accords.
That proviso in the 1995 law is cited by Netanyahu as a reason for not accepting the embassy.
But even that law, which Netanyahu has said he now supports, says explicitly that the embassy cannot be moved “until such time as the parties agree to establish an international diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.”