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Netanyahu (right) discussed the issue with Blinken in May. Photo: Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP via Getty

Israel Foreign Ministry officials have been lobbying the State Department to hold off on reopening the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to avoid creating difficulties for the new government, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israel's new government contains an unstable mix of parties with opposing views, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been pushing the consulate issue to portray the government as weak and unable to stand up to the Biden administration.

The backstory: The consulate served as the primary U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians until 2019, when the Trump administration merged it into the new U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. Biden has promised to reopen it.

  • But the Israeli Foreign Ministry has asked the State Department to hold off until at least after the summer to give the new government more time to stabilize.
  • Israeli officials say they believe the Biden administration understands the situation, won't press on this issue for now and may revisit it in September.
  • The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Flashback: Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the issue with Netanyahu during his visit to Israel in May, when Netanyahu was in his final weeks as prime minister.

  • Netanyahu asked Blinken to open the consulate in Ramallah or in the Abu Dis suburb of Jerusalem but not in the city itself, Israeli officials say.
  • When Blinken pushed back and said the U.S. would reopen the consulate in Jerusalem, Netanyahu replied, “You are going to help me score political points," according to officials briefed on the meeting.

Go deeper

Jun 30, 2021 - World

UAE foreign minister: Peace with Israel will grow despite change in government

Bin Zayed (left) greets Lapid in Abu Dhabi Tuesday. Photo: Government Press Office of Israel/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told me in an exclusive interview on Tuesday he is convinced that relations with Israel will continue to move forward regardless of the change of government in Jerusalem.

Why it matters: This was the first interview bin Zayed has given to an Israeli journalist. The interview took place on the sidelines of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's visit here, the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the UAE since the signing of the peace treaty between the countries in September.

Jun 28, 2021 - World

Biden assures Rivlin he won't allow Iran to go nuclear

Joe Biden meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in the Oval Office on Monday, June 28, 2021. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden assured Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during talks at the White House Monday evening that he won't allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon during his time in office.

Why it matters: The United States' already struggling effort to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was made more complicated by last week's election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to the Iranian presidency.

Mike Allen, author of AM
35 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

America's "Friendscape" crisis

New research shows Americans have fewer friends than in the past, and are less likely to have a best friend.

  • Why it matters: At a time of excruciating mental and societal stress, this is another sign we're breaking apart. And the friendship drought could get worse with more people working remotely or hybrid-ly.