After signing, US President Donald Trump holds up the proclamation that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there, during an address from the White House in Washington, US, December 6, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, timed with Israel's 70th Independence Day, a State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
The official was responding to a message on Twitter by Transportation Minister Israel Katz, who seemed to confirm the move would occur in the spring.
"We’re planning to open the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May," the US official told the Post
. "The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary."
"The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem," he continued. "At least initially, it will consist of the Ambassador and a small team."
US officials have been saying for months that they intend to move the embassy to Jerusalem before the end of this calendar year – a midterm election year in the US.
The State Department continues to scope out sites and architects for the construction of a larger, permanent embassy in Jerusalem.
US President Donald Trump touted his decision to move the US embassy
there from Tel Aviv in a speech to a conservative action group in Washington on Friday.
"I said, 'I have to do it, because its the right thing to do,'" Trump said, of his conversations with world leaders leading up to the decision. "The campaign against it was so incredible. But you know what, the campaign for it was also incredible."
Heather Nauert, a spokesman for the State Department, elaborated on the administration's plans in a statement on Friday afternoon and noted that US diplomats are "excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening."
"Those consular operations, including American citizen and visa services, will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the Embassy," Nauert said. "Consulate General Jerusalem will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate, from its historic Agron Road location. 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 continued. "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."