Sen. Hagerty slams Biden plan for Palestine consulate as ‘affront’ to Israel, ‘bizarre’ act of diplomacy

Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., slammed the Biden administration’s continued insistence to reopen a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem as an “affront” to Israel that could have disastrous consequences in an already tense city.  “I oppose President Biden’s controversial proposal to reopen a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., told Fox News Digital in an exclusive statement.  “A second competing U.S. diplomatic mission would be an affront to Israel and would be a bizarre act of ‘diplomacy’ to install a diplomatic mission over the objection of the host nation,” he stressed.  Hagerty served as one of the members on the committee interviewing Ambassador Richard Verma, President Biden’s nominee for the deputy sSecretary of state for management and resources – effectively the chief operating officer for the department.  ISRAEL’S FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS UKRAINE, PLEDGES FINANCIAL AID The role mainly focuses on executing foreign assistance and operational programs for the department, but the deputy secretary also directly advises the Secretary of State on policy.  Biden has repeatedly discussed plans to reverse former President Trump’s closure of the consulate that served the Palestinians in Jerusalem – a commitment that thus far remains uncompleted.  Under questioning by Hagerty, Verma acknowledged to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Biden would need Israel’s permission before opening any additional diplomatic missions in Israel’s capital city.  NOMINEE WHO CALLED BIDEN A ‘SENILE GAFFE MACHINE’ WITHDRAWN BY STATE DEPARTMENT “That’s my understanding as well,” Verma said.  The potential consulate remains a contentious issue as tensions continue to worsen in the city: A Palestinian last week plowed a car into a crowded bus stop in east Jerusalem, which followed weeks of violence in the city as Israel and Palestine seek retribution for attacks on each other.  A 13-year-old Palestinian boy tried to shoot Israeli pedestrians in January, which followed an attack on a synagogue that killed at least seven people and wounded several others, including at least one child.  The attacks allegedly occurred in response to a missile strike that Israel had ordered on the West Bank in January, which killed at least six militants and three other people, including an elderly woman.  ISRAELI OFFICIALS DOUBLE DOWN ON SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION, REBUKE US CRITICISM Hagerty raised the issue of the consulate in 2021 when the committee interviewed Biden’s previous nominee for the deputy secretary position. He stands opposed to the consulate over concerns it would create “a competing mission,” as the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act stated that the U.S. remains committed to maintaining Jerusalem as an “undivided city.”  “The Trump Administration’s decision to follow the law and establish our Embassy in Jerusalem — over the objections of the anti-Israel crowd — was a long-overdue act of leadership that demonstrated we stand with our strongest ally in the region as we recognized Jerusalem’s status as the eternal capital of Israel,” Hagerty told Fox News Digital.  The State Department in May 2022 reiterated its commitment to Biden’s plan, stressing that there are “a number of steps that have to go into the reopening of any diplomatic facility.”  State Department spokesperson Ned Price noted that “there are some, shall we say, unique sensitivities to this particular facility.” He rejected any suggestion that the department may have shelved its consulate plan.  “We are working through the issue with our Palestinian and Israeli partners,” Price added.  But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that he opposes the plan. In May 2021, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and U.N. Gilad Erdan said that the U.S. had the prerogative to reopen the consulate, but that Israel “indeed expressed clear opposition” to the plan, The Jerusalem Post reported.  Reuters contributed to this report. 
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