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January 22, 2017 12:22 pm

White House: We Are in Beginning Stages of Talks on Relocation of US Embassy From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Photo: Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons.

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Photo: Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced on Sunday that the Trump administration was in the beginning stage of talks on the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Reuters reported.

The announcement followed unsubstantiated reports in the Hebrew press that the new administration would be releasing a statement about the issue on Monday morning, Washington, DC time.

Israeli Channel 2’s Amit Segal had cited a “local little birdie” as his source, but noted, “There is no confirmation of this.”

During his election campaign, Trump promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy there accordingly. On Thursday — a day before Trump’s inauguration — Spicer told reporters to “stay tuned” for an imminent announcement from the new administration about the potential embassy move.

After Spicer’s announcement on Sunday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement:

I applaud President Trump on his historic announcement that the White House has begun discussions regarding moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. President Trump has proven that he is a true friend of the State of Israel and a leader who keeps his promises. This evening’s announcement has sent a clear message to the world that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of the State of Israel. We will provide any and all necessary assistance to the US administration to ensure that the embassy move is done seamlessly and efficiently.

After he was chosen in December to serve as Trump’s ambassador to the Jewish state, attorney David Friedman said, “I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

According to media reports, Friedman will live in an apartment he owns in Jerusalem’s Talbiyeh neighborhood, rather than move into the official ambassador’s residence in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to speak with Trump by telephone on Sunday. According to a statement made by Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem earlier in the day, the two will discuss “the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat.”

In a message sent to Trump on Friday congratulating him on his inauguration, Netanyahu said, “I look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and America stronger than ever.”

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