nsucurrent.com March 22, 2018

United States plans to move embassy to Jerusalem in May

24 February 2018, 07:07 | Nina Perez

United States plans to move embassy to Jerusalem in May

United States plans to move embassy to Jerusalem in May

In a statement issued by Israel's Embassy in Washington DC, the Israeli leader said "President Trump's decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem on the coming Independence Day follows his historic declaration in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital".

Trump's initial decision to move the embassy placed him squarely in the middle of the decades-long conflict over Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state but that Israel says will remain under its permanent control. The date has not yet been confirmed by the White House, but an unnamed USA official told Reuters that the U.S.is expected to open the embassy in May.

The revised schedule on the embassy move comes after US Vice President Mike Pence pledged only last month to move the embassy by the end of 2019 in a speech to Israel's parliament that saw Arab lawmakers expelled after they shouted in protest.

U.S. officials said the move was to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948. Once the consulate is designated the official embassy, Ambassador David Friedman and several aides will maintain offices in both places, said the State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

He then ordered the State Department to start looking for a site for an embassy in the city.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is reportedly being planned for mid-May. Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.

One official said plans for May were simple: "A sign will be put up identifying the facility as the USA embassy".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement and thanked US President Donald Trump for his "leadership" and his "friendship". "There is no greater gift than that!" he said.

One factor complicating the construction of an actual new embassy in Jerusalem involves the Trump administration's apparent interest in financing a lavish new facility by supplementing public funds with private donations, mostly from "donors in the evangelical Christian and American Jewish communities", according to the Associated Press.

Earlier today Mr Trump said he would not listen to critics of the move.

Daniel Shapiro, a former USA ambassador to Israel under President Obama, agrees that the embassy belongs in Jerusalem but that the Trump administration has failed to give the proper assurances especially to the Palestinians. "The most just and correct move".

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