The Trump administration will move its US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, the US State Department announced Friday, coinciding with Israel’s 70th anniversary.
While symbolically important, the move is likely a preliminary step in a broader relocation effort initiated by the administration in December, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said will take “years.”
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on US Decision to Move its Embassy to #Jerusalem: they deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, "the Nakba", as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury. #Palestine pic.twitter.com/ndpsYSVFYx
— Palestine PLO-NAD (@nadplo) February 24, 2018
The embassy will first be set up in an existing US facility in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona that “will contain office space for the Ambassador and a small staff,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement announcing the plan. The facility will function as the official embassy while plans to secure a permanent location and design a building are drawn up.
“By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space,” Nauert added.
“In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent Embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking.”
Vice President Mike Pence had said on his tour of Israel last month that the relocation would not happen until 2019.
The embassy will likely be located at a U.S. facility in the Talpiyot neighborhood, currently used for consular affairs, including passport and visa processing.
— RT (@RT_com) February 24, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is in touch with the U.S. administration and will respond once an official announcement has been made by the White House.
Protests promptly broke out in Gaza and the West Bank, having been taking place on a weekly basis since Trump first announced the move on December 6.
Israeli security forces have quelled the demonstrations and 20 Palestinians have been killed since Trump’s controversial declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
This is a great moment for the State of Israel. @POTUS Trump's decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebrations even happier.
Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership, and for your friendship. pic.twitter.com/LZFfc78lVl
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 24, 2018
The United States stood isolated during a UN General Assembly in late December, when that declaration was rejected by 128 nations.
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967’s Six-Day War.
(teleSUR, CNN, PC, Social Media)