(February 23, 2018 / JNS) The United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, in time for Israel’s 70th anniversary, according to a State Department official.
Steven Goldstein, undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, said on Friday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had approved a security plan for a “facility” in Jerusalem, the Associated Press reported.
“We’re looking at that as a possible date, but safety of the Marines and other people who visit and work there is primary,” said Goldstein.
According to the preliminary plans, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman will move his office, along with a small staff of around four to five people, to a building in Jerusalem known as the Diplomat Hotel, which the State Department acquired in 2014.
However, the move will likely be largely ceremonial for now as the current U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv will be renamed a consulate, but will still continue to house the bulk of the United State’s diplomatic staff in Israel.
Additionally, separate reports also indicate that pro-Israel Republican billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson has offered to pay for at least part of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, four U.S. officials told the Associated Press. State Department lawyers are currently looking into the legality of the offer.
Early last December, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and set forth plans to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At the time, however, officials noted that the embassy move would likely take years as the United States must construct a large and secure enough building to house the embassy.