Trump Committed to Moving Embassy to Jerusalem by Term's End, U.S. Officials Tell Israel

On his first day in office, new American envoy hears from president, prime minister that embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
Ariel Schalit

U.S. President Donald Trump remains committed to moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, even if he extends at the end of the month the presidential order freezing the implementation of the law calling for it, senior U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts in recent days.

Senior Israeli officials with knowledge of the American message who asked to remain anonymous said that the U.S. officials emphasized that Trump is determined to relocate the embassy by the end of his term and asked Israel to show patience.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the new American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, at his bureau in Jerusalem on Tuesday after the latter presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu referred in the meeting to the issue of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, and told Friedman that Israel's position is that it should be moved to Jerusalem, as should all other embassies.

At the beginning of their meeting, Netanyahu thanked Friedman for visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem upon in his arrival in Israel. "It was a powerful gesture of solidarity. We look forward to welcome President Trump, and wish to work together with you and the president in the coming years to strengthen the great alliance between us," the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman in Jerusalem, May 16, 2017.
Haim Tzach/GPO

Netanyahu and Friedman met for 90 minutes and discussed regional issues and diplomatic opportunities, a senior Israeli official said.

The issue of relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem arose in Friedman's other meetings on his first day in office. Rivlin told Friedman at the credentials presentation that the countries of the world should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Friedman also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who told him that Israel is anticipating the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem and the fulfillment of Trump's presidential promise.

"The people of Israel are united in their desire to see all the embassies in the capital of Israel, and our best friend in the world should start the process of returning the embassies to their natural place. There is no better time for that than now, in the year that we celebrate 50 years to the unification of the city," she said.