The American Consulate in Jerusalem - the Bottom Line

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Amb. Alan Baker - The May 2018 proclamation by the U.S. formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel established a new bilateral legal situation that replaced the former policy of non-recognition, whereby the U.S. acknowledged the application of Israeli law in Jerusalem. The 2018 proclamation rendered the existence of an independent U.S. consulate in Jerusalem serving the Palestinian administration as redundant and incompatible with official U.S. policy. The mutually accepted consular relationship between Israel and the U.S. is based on the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations. Article 4 of this convention determines that consular posts may only be established in the territory of the receiving state with that state's consent. Similarly, Articles 7 and 8 of the convention require that the exercise of consular functions vis-a-vis or on behalf of another state requires specific approval. Opening a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinians, without Israel's prior consent and sanction, would be a flagrant breach of Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. In Article IX (5) of the 1995 Israel-PLO Interim Agreement (Oslo 2), the parties agreed that the Palestinian Authority will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations. The same article provides for the possible establishment of "representative offices" by foreign states in the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority and would not require Israel's consent. Only in this manner could the U.S. establish a mission to provide services to the Palestinian Authority and its population that would be compatible with U.S. policy, with American international law commitments, and that would not undermine U.S. commitments and proclamations. The writer, former legal counsel to Israel's foreign ministry, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

2021-10-21 00:00:00

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