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Blinken affirms plan to keep US embassy in Jerusalem

Blinken affirms plan to keep US embassy in Jerusalem
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President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE's pick to lead the State Department committed on Tuesday to keeping the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, maintaining one of President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE's key foreign policy decisions.

Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Florida Republicans push Biden to implement Trump order on Venezuela Intelligence official says Khashoggi report 'obviously' will challenge Saudi relationship MORE, Biden's nominee for secretary of State, confirmed during his Senate confirmation hearing that the incoming administration has no intention of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, and affirmed that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Do you agree that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and do you commit that the United States will keep our embassy in Jerusalem?" asked Senator Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Texas attorney general hits links with Trump before CPAC appearance MORE (R-Texas).

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"Yes and yes," Blinken answered.

Trump in May 2018 moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilling a campaign promise and following through on a U.S. policy decision that was routinely delayed since 1995 to relocate the embassy from the beachfront city to the Holy City. Holding back on moving the embassy was viewed as key leverage by the U.S. to push for Israelis and Palestinians to engage on negotiations to establish a Palestinian state, with their own capital in east Jerusalem.

Trump and his allies in the administration and Congress have celebrated the moving of the U.S. embassy as a recognition of the Trump administration's stalwart support of Israel. Opponents of the move and the Trump administration's policies towards Israel, on the other hand, have argued that the U.S. embassy move favored Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and the base of conservative and right-wing Israel supporters while alienating and rejecting legitimate claims by the Palestinians.

The international community has withheld recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital absent a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

Blinken on Tuesday said the Biden administration is not optimistic about near-term efforts to restart negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but called for both sides to refrain from unilateral actions that would make it harder to eventually return to the negotiating table.

He instead called for "confidence building measures" that would "create an environment in which we might once again be able to help advance a solution to the Israel and Palestinian relationship."