The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, which handles diplomatic contacts with the Palestinians, will cease to exist as of March 4, a U.S. official tells me.

Why it matters: The consulate was founded 175 years ago and has, for the past 25 years, served as the U.S. diplomatic post in charge of relations with the Palestinian Authority. The consulate will now merge with the U.S. Embassy, which was moved to Jerusalem in May. This will further downgrade U.S.-Palestinian diplomatic relations.

Details: U.S. Consul General Karen Sasahara will leave on March 4, and the historic building on Agron Road will become the residence of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, the U.S. official said. This will complete the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

  • The consulate's deputy head of mission will lead a new "Palestinian affairs department" at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the U.S. official said.
  • Moreover, from March 4, all reports regarding the Palestinians will be channeled through the embassy. There will be no direct reporting to Washington.

Backdrop: Since President Trump's Jerusalem announcement in December 2017, contacts between the Palestinians and the U.S. have been almost completely severed. The consulate general in Jerusalem had minimal contacts with the Palestinian Authority.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 18,359,053 — Total deaths: 695,709 — Total recoveries — 10,952,311Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 4,738,853 — Total deaths: 156,041 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. States: New York City health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response — New York ER doctor on pandemic advice: "We know what works"
  4. Public health: 59% of Americans support nationwide 2-week stay-at-home order in NPR poll Atrium Health CEO says "virtual hospital" has treated 13,000 COVID patients.
  5. Politics: Trump tells "Axios on HBO" that pandemic is "under control," despite surges in infections and uptick in deaths.
Updated 24 mins ago - World

Massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: The cause of the explosion is unknown. It's also unclear how many people were killed or wounded, but the Lebanese Red Cross has told AP that casualties number in the hundreds. Reuters reports that at least 10 people have been killed, citing security sources.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

The U.S. is at risk of attacks in space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Other nations are catching up to U.S. capabilities in space, potentially putting American assets in orbit at risk.

Why it matters: From GPS to imagery satellites and others that can peer through clouds, space data is integral to American national security.