Washington (QNN)- US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem and expressed his opposition to Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood during a closed Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Asked by Americans for Peace Now CEO Hadar Susskind in a phone call whether Biden raised the two issues during his meeting with Bennett, US National Security Council director for the Middle East Barbara Leaf responded, “Yes and Yes,” according to two participants on the call.
Leaf said Biden made clear that he still plans to re-open the de-facto mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
In May, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would be reopening the Consulate General in Jerusalem that handled relations with the Palestinians.
The consulate dates back to 1844 and served for 25 years as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians.
However, in 2018, outgoing President Donald Trump merged the consulate into the US embassy in Jerusalem, after he moved the US embassy to ‘Israel’ from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
Asked about the matter during an interview with The New York Times earlier this week, Bennett went the furthest he’s gone to publicly oppose the effort.
“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It’s not the capital of other nations,” he claimed.
Leaf also said Biden raised his “clear opposition” to Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the occupied Jerusalem, where dozens of Palestinians are facing imminent displacement from their homes, in a move to force them out and replace it entirely with an Israeli settlement.
The president told Bennett he wanted to see a resolution on the matter that would allow the families to remain in their homes, participants quoted Leaf as saying.
Leaf took four questions during the call, including one from an organization executive who asked whether Biden raised the issue of “creeping annexation” in the occupied West Bank.
The NSC Mideast director responded that Biden conveyed to Bennett his opposition to illegal settlement growth as well.
Another Jewish organization executive quizzed Leaf on any progress the administration has been making on advancing the so-called Abraham Accords, launched by former president Donald Trump that resulted in the establishment of relations with ‘Israel’ and four Arab nations last year.
She responded that Biden told Bennett that he takes the issue very seriously and views it as a priority, but did not go any further into specifics, similar to previous briefings by Biden officials on the matter.
She did say that the administration was working to push the normalization agreement with Sudan “across the finish line,” according to one participant on the 30-minute call.