Embassy vs. consulate

20160303_130813If you are embarking on travel to Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank and you’re politics-averse…then maybe consider changing plans. Or buying earplugs or one of those sleep face-masks. It is a place where politics is life. The impact of policy decisions and international agreements has an often almost immediate impact.

Take the embassy vs. consulate debate that has long raged.

At a very basic level, there are good reasons for the debates. There is good reasons for all the uproar about the American embassy being moved from Tel Aviv, where almost every other embassy is located. A couple of less powerful nations followed suit when the current administration made the dramatic choice to relocate the embassy.

The basic facts you need to know on this debate so you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes or sucked into a conversation in which you’re just getting brainwashed:

  1. A foreign embassy location is significant in that it demonstrates a recognition of a certain status of national political life vis-a-vis international norms and laws. For embassies of most nations to be located in Tel Aviv signals a tacit support for a future two-state (Jewish-Palestinian) solution. We can dream, right?
  2. A foreign embassy located in Jerusalem is a very intentional move meant to send a message: that Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel. Make no mistake – the message itself is rhetoric.
  3. Jerusalem’s history is long and winding and full of hidden corners and untold stories that lend context and relevance to modern debates like the American embassy location. But one thing is for certain: Jerusalem is a city (more like an entity) that belongs neither to Israel nor to the Palestinians and any future state they might form.
  4. As best I can tell after years of living and working in Jerusalem and writing about its people and dramas and history – my conclusion is that Jerusalem belongs to herself.
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