Israel to speed up process for US embassy move to Jerusalem

Israel to speed up process for US embassy move to Jerusalem
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Jerusalem: Israel said today it would not allow bureaucratic red tape to delay the controversial transfer of the US embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem scheduled for May. The construction of a security wall and an emergency exit route both need planning permission, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said in a statement.

“We will not allow bureaucracy needlessly to delay the transfer,” he said. Kahlon said the move was of “strategic” importance to Israel and that his staff would “do everything that is needed to respect the timetable”. Breaking with decades of US policy, President Donald Trump in December officially recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and pledged to move the embassy from Tel Aviv.

The United States has said it will relocate its embassy in May, bringing forward the contested move to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. The embassy move could destroy prospects of a two-state solution to the decades-old Middle East conflict, the Palestinians have warned.

The move has prompted deadly protests and 128 states condemned it in a UN General Assembly vote in December. Only seven smaller countries aligned themselves with Washington. Until now, the US embassy has been located in Tel Aviv with a separate consulate general located in Jerusalem that represents US interests in the Palestinian territories.

The new embassy is to be housed initially in a US consular building in Jerusalem while Washington searches for a permanent location.

AFP