The State Department announced on Friday that a US Embassy will be opened in Jerusalem in May 2018 to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. The embassy will initially open in the current consular facility in the Arnona section of south Jerusalem. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the security plan for the move on Thursday and Congress was informed on Friday.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for mid-May and Israeli independence day, figured according to the Hebrew calendar, will be on April 19th this year.
Staff at the consulate were told Friday that, as of mid-May, they would be considered employees of the embassy, Channel 10 reported.
In its initial phase, Ambassador David Friedman will move to the consular premises, Channel 10 said, and the building will be formally redesignated as the US Embassy.
“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,” a statement issued by the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Friday said.
Channel 10 News in Israel reported that a small suite of offices in the consulate will be retrofitted for the use of US Ambassador David Friedman and his staff but the ambassador will still maintain his office in the embassy in Tel Aviv which will continue to operate as a branch of the Jerusalem Embassy. Plans are underway to build a new facility specifically as an embassy in Jerusalem.
On Friday, four US officials told The Associated Press that the Trump administration was considering an offer from billionaire Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new embassy.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon praised the Trump administration on Friday shortly after the announcement.
“President Trump’s bold decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem this May, in honor of our 70th Independence Day, is a testament to the unbreakable alliance and true friendship between the US and Israel,” said Danon.
“The time is now for all UN member-states to follow in the footsteps of the US and declare that they too recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel,” he added.
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Source: Israel in the News