Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Wednesday that a U.S. plan to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem that has traditionally been a base for diplomatic outreach to Palestinians is a "bad idea" and could destabilize Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's new government.
"We think this is a bad idea and told the U.S. as much," he said. "The consulate has been there for 130 years and reopening it after it was closed sends the wrong message."
The prior administration of President Donald Trump signaled support for Israel's claim on Jerusalem as its capital by moving the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv and subsuming the consulate in that mission.
It was among several moves that incensed the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as capital of a hoped-for, future state.
President Joe Biden has pledged to restore ties with the Palestinians, back a two-state solution and move forward with reopening the consulate, which has remained shuttered since 2019, with Palestinian affairs handled by the embassy.
"Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel and Israel alone, and therefore we don't think it's a good idea, Lapid said. "We know that the (Biden) administration has a different way of looking at this, but since it is happening in Israel, we are sure they are listening to us very carefully."
Asked for comment, Wasel Abu Youssef, an official with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization, said Israel was trying to keep the status quo and block any political solution.
The U.S. embassy had no immediate comment.
Israel deems all of Jerusalem its undivided capital - a status not recognized internationally.
"We have an interesting and yet delicate structure of our government and we think this might destabilize this government and I don't think the American administration wants this to happen," he said.
Divisions among Palestinians also cast doubt about the prospects for diplomacy, Lapid said. "I am a devoted believer in the two-state solution ... but we'll have to admit the fact this is not feasible in the current situation."
First published: 17:12, 09.01.21