The United States will officially move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Israel in May, the US State Department announced on Friday.
The announcement greatly moves up the new embassy’s initially scheduled opening in 2019, after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delays by approving a security plan, The Hill reported. “The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. The Embassy will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Nauert added that the search for a site for a new US permanent embassy was still on. “We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening,” the White House said in a statement. Trump, who touted the Jerusalem move during a Friday speech, is also considering the possibility of accepting donations from wealthy Jewish-American donors to fund the permanent facility.
On December 6 last year, Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a controversial move, prompting international criticism and sparking protests across the world. Jerusalem is considered a sacred place, which is home to Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. However, it is also a disputed territory, contested by both Israel and Palestine, which sees it as a capital of its future state.