Group of ex-IDF generals urges MKs to back US reopening of Jerusalem consulate

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Matan Vilnai, a former cabinet minister and IDF general. (Flash90)
Matan Vilnai, a former cabinet minister and IDF general. (Flash90)

WASHINGTON — The chairman of a group of more than 300 ex-IDF generals and security agency chiefs pens a letter to Israeli lawmakers and cabinet members urging them to back the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem.

Last May, Washington announced that it would reopen the mission that historically served as the representative office to the Palestinians, which was shuttered by former president Donald Trump in 2019. Jerusalem opposes the plan, saying it encroaches on its sovereignty in the city, which should not host diplomatic missions serving non-Israelis.

In his letter, Matan Vilnai, head of the group Commanders for Israel’s Security, argues that supporting the move would be in line with the new Israeli government’s stated policies of strengthening the PA and “shrinking the conflict.”

“Few political/diplomatic measures — with no security downside — can make a greater contribution to strengthening the stature of the PA among Palestinians, stabilize its governance capacity, and hence secure the continuity of security coordination, more than reopening of the American consulate,” he writes.

Vilnai notes that pushing back on the Biden administration’s plan could damage Jerusalem’s efforts to rebuild ties with Democrats and broader bipartisan support for Israel in the US.

“The consulate reopening is bound to upgrade the US-PA dialogue, thus enhance Washington’s capacity to affect PA policies on matters of importance to Israel,” he adds.

He cautions lawmakers against “our tendency to artificially inflate issues to existential proportions.”

“It was not the existence of the consulate that divided Jerusalem. Its closure did not unite the city, nor will its renewal affect in any way the freedom of sovereign decisions of this or future governments regarding the fate of the city,” Vilnai says.

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