In retaliation for Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Israeli government will likely close its US consulate and forbid any visit by its envoys in Washington and in Massachusetts, multiple Israeli government officials told The Washington Post. Israel is doubling down on its insistence that there is no room in Jerusalem for an American consulate for Palestinians and instead has requested its US diplomats carry out social and cultural activities for local Israelis on their own time, these officials said. Israel’s Office of the Foreign Minister told the Post that “immediately after the US’ unilateral decision, it issued a no-visit order for the Consul General in Boston and will issue such orders for the Consul General in Jerusalem.” The officials also said the closure of the US consulate was likely to be temporary.
The Palestinians are “outraged and indignant” at the move, the organization said in a statement, adding, “We feel angry and betrayed, they are breaking the trust they had with the United States and they are ignoring what is best for them and their own people.” One Palestinian official called the move “a declaration of war against us and all Arab states, and the Palestinian people will not accept it.”
Conversely, Trump’s move fulfilled a long-held Israeli wish for “our own diplomatic in Washington” that has “been floating around for a long time,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Post. She told the Post that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made that very request in his congratulatory phone call with Trump following the announcement on Wednesday. On the same day, Netanyahu also met with Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Israel for talks about the shift, and according to Haaretz, told Tillerson, “We don’t want to have a diplomatic consulate, we want our own foreign ministry.” Hotovely also said that Netanyahu was “deeply hurt” by the US decision.
National Security Advisor HR McMaster told reporters that Israel could choose to close down its consulate, and Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she was “confident” the consulate would not be shuttered, but did not specifically address the Israeli government’s plan to close it down. She added, “I’m not going to prejudge discussions that I have with countries, but there has been nothing on our mind about moving the embassy, or relocating our consulate down there.” Tillerson has now reportedly told Ambassador David Friedman, the US envoy to Israel, that he should move the US embassy there by the end of 2019 or the U.S. government will move it itself.
Read more: On Day 1, Trump’s decision on Jerusalem is a bold stroke — and a declaration of war.