Dec 01, 2021

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Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his confidence on Wednesday that the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem within one year, US president Donald Trump told reporters that the transition would not be that fast.

”By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios,” Trump said responding to a question from Reuters regarding Netanyahu’s remarks. “I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no.“

Speaking from India where he is paying a state visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu had told reporters, “my assessment is that the embassy will be moved much faster than you think, certainly within a year.”

The president also said that the embassy will be  “a beautiful embassy but not one that costs $1.2 billion,” an apparent reference to the recently inaugurated US embassy in London that Trump has claimed to have been too costly to build.

On Thursday, Reuters reported an anonymous Israeli official as saying that while Netanyahu also expects the embassy to be constructed in more than a year’s time, he also believes in the viability of “interim measures that could result in an embassy opening much faster.” Such “interim measures” could take the form of a temporary location, an option that has been suggested in Israeli media.

Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson told the New York Times that the embassy move will probably be “no earlier than three years out,” given practical considerations.

Trump’s pre-election promise to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem helped his campaign to garner major support from pro-Israel Evangelical voters. Doubts regarding the sincerity of the campaign pledge were put to rest when the president acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and announced his intentions to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, in a historic declaration on December 6.

The Palestinian Authority views the long-term status of Jerusalem as a red-line issue in negotiations with the Israelis and is furious with Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In a speech last Sunday to the Palestinian Central Council, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that he had rejected an offer from President Trump to establish a Palestinian capital in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem.