Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Wednesday that the ministry would waive requirements for the US State Department to obtain local building permits in order to undertake infrastructure work for the purpose of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I am thankful for the privilege of being the finance minister and the head of the National Council for Planning and Building who will oversee the relocation of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Kahlon said in a statement.
Kahlon’s decision followed a report Tuesday the Hebrew-language Hadashot TV news channel that the embassy move could be delayed due to red-tape surrounding State Department plans to shore up the existing US Consulate General site in south Jerusalem site ahead of the move. Construction plans reportedly include construction of a three-meter wall around the site and construction of a new road to the site.
However, the site’s current zoning status does not allow for the changes, leading Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem to intervene yesterday with Kahlon, stressing that the embassy opening – scheduled for May 14, Israel’s 70th anniversary on the Gregorian calendar – would be delayed because the National Council for Planning and Building is not scheduled to meet again before Passover, which begins the evening of March 30.
“Without completion of these [infrastructure projects],” Rotem wrote, “the [Consulate] compound will not meet State Department requirements for moving the American Embassy.”
To streamline the process, Kahlon ordered the national planning board to waive requirements for the upgrade, concluding his statement with “see you all in May.”