U.S. to move Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Feb. 23, 2018 at 12:16 PM
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Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, a State Department official confirmed Friday.

Steven Goldstein, State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy, said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved a security plan for "a facility" in Jerusalem, with a target date of May 14 to begin the move.

"We're planning to open the new U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May. The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel's 70th anniversary," a State Department official told the Jerusalem Post. "The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem. At least initially, it will consist of the Ambassador and a small team."

A staff of four to five people, including Ambassador David Friedman, will move their offices to The Diplomat Hotel, a building owned by the State Department. Residents in the area have observed activity at the building recently, including deliveries of crates and furniture, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing Israel's Reshet television channel.

President Donald Trump announced plans for the controversial move in December. Last month Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli Knesset in January that the move would be made in 2019.

Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the potential capital of a future Palestinian state and oppose any suggestion that Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel's capital. The U.S. embassy has been located in Tel Aviv since 1948, when Israel was established as a sovereign country.

Although there has been no announcement from the State Department, CBS News reported on Friday that several donors in the United States have offered funding for a new embassy building.

At least 10 other countries are conferring with Israel on potentially moving their embassies to Jerusalem, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely revealed Thursday.

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