It is rare to experience a historic day; it is even rarer when the day passes largely without notice. The US-Israel relationship is stronger today because of a merger taking place between the US Consulate General Jerusalem and the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Most mergers aren’t that exciting let alone historic, but this merger brings great consequence. In October Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the State Department, “plan[s] to achieve significant efficiencies and increase our effectiveness by merging US Embassy Jerusalem and US Consulate General Jerusalem into a single diplomatic mission.”
The US Consulate General Jerusalem is an often confusing campus. Situated in central Jerusalem’s Agron Road, its soaring American flags, significant security presence and monopoly of prime parking spots is seen but not understood. What most Israelis and Americans never knew was that the US Consulate acted as an unofficial American embassy to a non-existent Palestinian state. While no one should take issue with American officials talking to Palestinian Arabs, in reality the Consulate became an advocate for the Palestinian efforts at demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. Some of the Consulate’s former officials went on to become Israel’s loudest biased critics.
The predisposition to anti-Israel stances taken by the Consulate stood in contrast to America’s longstanding allegiance to Israel. While the US Embassy covered Israel, the Consulate was tasked to cover the West Bank. One of a consulate’s most important tasks is to write on the ground reports from their area of coverage. While these reports are supposed to be fact based, the Consulate would almost never talk to Jews in Judea and Samaria. The Consulate’s reports almost always covered the Palestinian Arab victimhood; it rarely mentioned the Israeli point of view. Members of Congress, State Department and administration officials would read two opinions on Israel, a fair and balanced report from the Embassy and a biased report from the Consulate.
With Secretary Pompeo’s decision to merge the Embassy and Consulate, along with the efforts of Ambassador Friedman, his chief of staff, Aryeh Lightstone and the embassy and consulate staff, the anti-Israel bias ends today. As of Monday, there will be one voice, an honest voice that is heard from the region. Embassy and Consulate officials will work together to draw reports that give an accurate description of events in Israel. Instead of having two departments doing one job, efforts will be streamlined and great efficiency achieved. This merger should have taken place fifty years ago and all Americans should be proud it is finally happening today.
Palestinian Arab officials are notably upset at the merger. Calling it, “the last nail in the coffin of the US administration’s role in peacemaking.” Palestinian Arabs are following their usual playbook of distorting truth to fit an anti-Israel and American narrative. As the State Department announced, The merger “does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip. The United States continues to take no position on final status issues, including boundaries or borders. The Administration remains fully committed to efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace. A US Embassy Palestinian Affairs Unit will operate from our historic Agron Road location in Jerusalem.”
As an American who cares deeply about the US-Israel relationship I am grateful to President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Friedman, Aryeh Lightstone and the embassy and consulate staff for the merger. While most people won’t recognize the historic nature of this merger, they will be impacted by its results. With more accurate reporting, more efficient operations and a greater alliance between America and Israel, the merger is historic and walks back many past efforts to create daylight between America and Israel.