US to open its Jerusalem embassy by 2019

ANI | Updated: Jan 21, 2018 17:47 IST

Washington D.C [USA], Jan 21 (ANI): The United States on Saturday decided to open its brand new embassy in Jerusalem by 2019, according to two US State Department officials close to the US President Donald Trump.

In a meeting chaired by the Trump administration on Thursday, officials had proposed to retrofit the existing US consulate in Jerusalem, rather than building a new one, which would take several years to complete and cost as much as billion dollars. The proposal was accepted by Trump on Friday.

The existing US consulate is located in Jerusalem's Arnona locality. It is located near the Green Zone, which acts as the Israel-Palestine border. However, it does not have a consulate or an embassy in Palestine, the CNN reported.

According to the plan, the retrofitting of the US consulate would begin soon. After the retrofitting process is partially done, the existing staff at the US embassy in Tel Aviv would shift to Jerusalem, with proper security arrangements.

According to the officials, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had pushed to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv this year. But, he had run into loggerheads with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due to political differences.

Also, it was reported that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner had supported Friedman's move as well. Kushner is currently attempting to revive the peace process between Israel and Palestine.

On December 6 last year, relations between Palestine and the US turned sour, when Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, 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. (ANI)