WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today in an oversight hearing questioned Ambassador Richard R. Verma, the Biden Administration’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, on the Biden Administration’s controversial push to reopen a U.S. consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem. The Government of Israel has consistently opposed this proposal.
“I’d like to go back to the question that I asked then-Deputy Secretary of State Brian McKeon and repeat what I asked him: ‘Is it your understanding that, under U.S. and international law, the Government of Israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the United States could reopen the U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem? Or does the Biden Administration believe it can move forward to establish a second U.S. mission in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem without the consent of the government of Israel?’ At the time, Deputy Secretary McKeon answered, ‘Yes, that is my understanding that we need the consent of the host government to open a diplomatic facility.’ Ambassador Verma, I just simply want to ask you whether you agree with then-Deputy Secretary McKeon’s answer?” Senator Hagerty asked.
Verma confirmed to Hagerty that the United States would ultimately need the consent of Israel to open or re-open any new diplomatic facility in Jerusalem: “That’s my understanding as well, Senator,” Verma said.
In October 2021, then-Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon first confirmed to Hagerty that the United States would ultimately need the consent of the host government—Israel—to open or re-open any diplomatic facility in Israel’s eternal capital city of Jerusalem.
Hagerty plans to reintroduce in the 118th Congress an updated version of his Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act, a bill to protect the full and faithful implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and block the Biden Administration’s proposed efforts to subvert the law.