Saturday, September 25, 2021

United States set to open Jerusalem embassy in May

Washington, Feb 23 (EFE).- The US State Department confirmed Friday that it plans to inaugurate its new embassy in Jerusalem next May, coinciding with celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

“In May, the United States plans to open a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary,” the State Department said in a statement.

At first, the diplomatic mission will be made up of the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, “and a small staff,” the statement indicated.

A view of the United States Consulate building complex in West Jerusalem, 23 January 2017 (re-isued 23 February 2018). Media reports on 23 February 2018 state that the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem might happen much earlier then initially expected. While the date ‘by the end of 2019’ was mentioned by US Vice President Mike Pence during his January visit to Israel, reports now say it is expected the move could happen as early as 14 May 2018, coinciding with the date of Israel’s declaration of independence on 14 May 1948. EFE

The new delegation will be located in the same building that at present houses consular operations of the US Consulate in the Arnona neighborhood, chosen by Washington 30 years ago as the possible seat of its diplomacy in Israel.

However, this will be only a temporary solution since, according to the State Department statement, Washington’s intention is to set up, by the end of next year, a new embassy annex “on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space.”

“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,” the statement added.

The announcement signifies a notable reduction in the time needed to carry out this controversial project set in motion by President Donald Trump last December, when he ordered the US Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At that time, the White House said the move could take at least three or four years.

On a trip to Israel late last January, US Vice President Mike Pence said before the Knesset (Israeli legislature) that the move to Jerusalem would be completed by the end of 2019.

Arab countries are not happy about the move, however, and many countries have asked the US president to reconsider.

But Trump’s response has been to double down on his plan, and in a speech this Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he bragged about moving to Jerusalem even though, as he said, other countries had begged him “Don’t do it, don’t do it.”