The U.S. officially closed its consulate general in Jerusalem, which had served as the de facto diplomatic mission for Palestinians.

While the State Department framed the move as a “merger” with its embassy in the city, critics say it’s another setback for peace that puts Israeli interests over Palestinian rights

As Haaretz reported,

The consulate had primarily served the capital’s Palestinians and was the main channel of communication over the years between the U.S. administration and the Palestinian leadership. The move means that the consulate will stop acting as an independent diplomatic mission and the Palestinians will be forced to work with an entity that is subordinate to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Friedman’s appointment to that post, it should be noted, was strongly condemned at the time given his far-right positions. Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson, for example, said that his appointment was “a distressing signal that the [Trump] administration will give the Israeli government a free hand to deepen its fundamentally undemocratic and abusive control over Palestinian land, resources, and rights.”

The move, argued State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino in a statement on Sunday, is “to increase the efficiency and effectiveness.”

“U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem will merge into U.S. Embassy Jerusalem to form a single diplomatic mission,” he stated, and added, “We will continue to conduct all of the diplomatic and consular functions previously performed by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann took issue with the government’s use of the term “merge” to describe the shift—a word choice repeated in corporate media—and argued that the consulate “will be subsumed into the Embassy to Israel. This is no mere technicality, and precisely reflects current U.S. policies: all things Palestinian are subservient to Israeli interests.”