13:05 GMT30 May 2020
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    A US State Department spokesperson earlier confirmed to Sputnik that a previously-reported decision regarding a possible merger of US diplomatic entities would take place in March.

    The combining of the US Embassy and the Consulate General in Jerusalem into one diplomatic mission — a move condemned by Palestinian authorities — will go into effect on 4 March, according to a US State Department official, cited by The Times of Israel.

    One result of the move will see the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians downgraded as the US Consulate General in Jerusalem had been acting as a de facto representative office to the Palestinian Authority.

    After the merger a Palestinian affairs unit is expected to be established as a part of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, thus, all Palestinian-related issues will come under the jurisdiction of the US ambassador to Israel, The Times of Israel reported.

    READ MORE: US to Combine Jerusalem Consulate with Embassy in March — State Department 

    The decision was earlier criticised by Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat, who noted that the move has "nothing to do with efficiency".

    Efficiency was the justification for the move given by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in October 2018.

    "The decision of the United States to end the consulate's existence […] has nothing to do with efficiency, but a lot with the desire to please the ideologized American team, which is primed to dismantle the foundations of the international system and US foreign policy in order to reward Israel for its violations and crimes", Erekat said in a statement.

    READ MORE: Israeli Authorities Approve Expansion of US Embassy in Jerusalem — Reports

    In May 2018 the US moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking a harsh reaction from the Palestinians as well as many in the Muslim world. Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas has stated that he does not recognise the US as a mediator in the peace process.


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    Consulate General, merger, embassy, U.S. Department of State, Palestine, United States, Middle East
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