United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, US State Department said on Friday, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Palestinian (Nakba) catastrophe.
“We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening," State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
He added: “The embassy will be gradually expanded in existing consular facilities in the Arnona Neighbourhood, while the search for a permanent site has already begun for a longer-term undertaking.”
Nauert continued: “The interim embassy will have office space for the ambassador and a small staff and, by the end of 2019, a new embassy annex on the Arnona compound will be opened.
Trump administration officials said Congress was notified of the impending move. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the security plan for the new embassy on Thursday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US decision, saying: “It will turn Israel's 70th Independence Day [Palestinian Nakba Day] into a much greater celebration.”
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian's chief negotiator, said the US move showed a “determination to violate international law, destroy the two-state solution and provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.”
Member of Hamas Political Bureau Izzat al-Reshiq said that this move “needs an urgent and strong Palestinian, Arab and Islamic response.”
He also called for the PLO, Arab and Islamic states, which recognise Israel, “to immediately withdraw their recognition.”