US President Donald Trump on Wednesday will order the State Department to start the process of relocating the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s move received the bipartisan support of the US Congress and it was backed by the president’s peace team, a senior Trump administration official said.
However, Donald Trump is not going to specify the timetable for the process, but he will set the expectations, the official added, pointing out that the US administration has engaged broadly with congressional and international partners on this issue.
“He [Trump] will direct the State Department to begin a process of moving the United States embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to a site in Jerusalem,” the official said on Tuesday. “That does not mean the embassy will move tomorrow… It will take some time to find the site, address security concerns, design the new facility, fund the new facility.”
The White House said that Trump in separate phone calls on Tuesday spoke with the leaders of five Middle Eastern countries – namely, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia – about the possibility of relocating the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In addition, the US official pointed out that appropriate US agencies have designed and enforced a security plan to ensure the safety of the embassy personnel and American citizens in the area.
The White House believes Trump’s decision will help to resolve an ongoing conflict between Jerusalem and Palestine as the United States will continue to support a two state solution for the countries, according to the official.
Earlier in the day, the US Consulate General in Jerusalem issued a warning message prohibiting government employees and their family members from traveling to the city due to potential demonstrations related to Trump’s decision.
US Decision on Jerusalem May Fuel Tensions in Smouldering Hotbed
Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud warned US President Donald Trump in phone talks on Tuesday that any decision made by the United States regarding the status of Jerusalem before reaching complete settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will damage the peace talks.
“Any decision of the United States on the status of Jerusalem before the final settlement will damage the peace talks and increase tensions in the region … Saudi Arabia supported and continues to support the Palestinian people and defend its historical rights,” the Saudi King said in phone talks, as quoted by the country’s foreign ministry.
The Saudi monarch also emphasized that “this dangerous step will provoke the feelings of Muslims around the world, for whom the importance of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is great.”
According to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, the US embassy in Israel is supposed to be moved to Jerusalem. However, every American leader since then has waived the requirement every six months in light of the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump missed Monday’s legal deadline for submitting the waiver.
The Palestinian side, among a number of the Middle Eastern countries, has warned that the move may lead to escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and destabilize situation in the region, while Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has threatened to cut ties with Israel.