Jerusalem embassy move bumped up to May
The U.S. will officially move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, the State Department announced on Friday, following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The announcement greatly moves up the new embassy’s initially scheduled opening in 2019, after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delays by approving a security plan.
“The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. The Embassy will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Nauert said the search continues for a future permanent embassy site.
“We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening,” the White House said in its own statement Friday.
Trump, who touted the Jerusalem move during a Friday speech, is also considering the possibility of accepting donations from wealthy Jewish American donors to fund the permanent facility.
Jerusalem is considered a capital city by both the Israelis and the Palestinians, who have called the embassy move devastating to potential peace talks.
The president first announced the shift in long-standing foreign policy toward Israel late last year.
“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver,” he said. “Today, I am delivering.”
Democrats and many of America’s closest allies have sharply criticized the move. The United Nations voted overwhelming to condemn it in December.