Jerusalem Embassy Move to Coincide with Israel's 70th Anniversary

Jerusalem Embassy Move to Coincide with Israel's 70th Anniversary
Visitors are seen at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's Old City, on June 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May to coincide with 70th anniversary of the declaration of Israeli independence.

State Department press secretary Heather Nauert confirmed today that a facility will open in Jerusalem in May.

“The Embassy will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem. Those consular operations, including American citizen and visa services, will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the Embassy,” Nauert said in a statement. “Consulate General Jerusalem will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate, from its historic Agron Road location.”

Trump has vowed to build “a beautiful embassy” in Jerusalem. Nauert said that “initially, the interim Embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador and a small staff.”

“By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space,” she said. “In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent Embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking. We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued through the Israeli Embassy in Washington that Trump’s decision to move the Embassy to Jerusalem following “his historic declaration in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” would “turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into an even bigger celebration.”

“Thank you President Trump for your leadership and friendship,” Netanyahu added.

The announcement comes a week before the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in D.C. The Trump administration is sending Vice President Mike Pence to address the large gathering of pro-Israel lobbyists.

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