Reports: US Embassy Eyes Move to Jerusalem by 2019

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Posted: Jan 19, 2018 9:31 AM
Reports: US Embassy Eyes Move to Jerusalem by 2019

The United States is looking to push up the timeline for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to 2019.

Previously, administration officials said the projected move would take three years or more because of the time required to build a new facility.

But according to reports, the State Department has decided to go the quicker and more cost effective route of using an existing consular building located in the neighborhood of Arnona in West Jerusalem.

White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel and former Trump bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, as well as Mideast negotiator and former Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt are said to have pushed for the accelerated timeline. (CBS)

Ultimately, however, safety is the greatest concern at the moment.

"The secretary will do this at the pace of security, not politics," said Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of state for diplomacy and public affairs, reports CBS News. "Our equity is in the safety and security of U.S. personnel."

The president denied the new timeline.

Questions surfaced after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that it is his “solid assessment” that the new U.S. embassy would open within the year.

“By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios - I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that,” Trump told Reuters. “We’re looking at doing a beautiful embassy, but not one that costs $1.2 billion.”

State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert also told Axios there are no updates to provide about the embassy's timeline: "The U.S. government is currently assessing the suitability of various Jerusalem sites for a future embassy. For now, we have no updates.”