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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

Oct 6, 2021 - World

Israeli foreign minister heads to D.C. to coordinate on Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Rome. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will travel to Washington next week for talks with senior Biden administration officials on Iran, Lapid’s office said.

  • Lapid is expected to meet with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Vice President Kamala Harris between Oct. 12-14.
Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker

Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19

Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

State of play: Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement that Milley — who is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot — is experiencing "very minor symptoms" and is "working remotely and isolating himself."