The United States consulate in Jerusalem has been closed down, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the US Embassy to Israel.

The consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians for decades. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy.

The symbolic shift hands authority over US diplomatic channels with the West Bank and Gaza to ambassador David Friedman, a longtime supporter and fundraiser for the West Bank settler movement and fierce critic of the Palestinian leadership.

This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said.

“It does not signal a change of US policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.”

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