Confirmed: US to downgrade Palestinian mission today

While US says merger of its offices is meant to improve 'efficiency', Palestinians see it as another move against them.

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The United States is expected to move ahead with a downgrade of its mission to the Palestinians on Monday by merging its Jerusalem consulate with the embassy to Israel, a US official said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Shabbos said the announcement to merge the two offices in October was intended to improve “efficiency and effectiveness” and did not constitute a change in policy.

But Palestinian leaders have seen the decision as yet another move against them by US President Donald Trump’s administration, which they froze contact with after his 2017 decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A date for the merger of the consulate into the embassy had not been announced, but a State Department official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity that it “is expected to take place on March 4”.

The Jerusalem consulate general, which has acted independently as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians since the Oslo accords of the 1990s, will be replaced by a new Palestinian affairs unit within the embassy.

Trump, has also cut more than $500m in Palestinian aid in a bid to force its leaders to negotiate.

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