Netanyahu: Israel's Position Was and Is That the U.S. Embassy Should Be in Jerusalem

Israeli prime minister's comments come after GOP in Israel head tells Haaretz that Israeli officials are responsible for Trump's foot-dragging on the embassy move.

A picture taken on January 20, 2017 shows the exterior of the U.S. Embassy building in Tel Aviv, as Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.
JACK GUEZ/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel's position remains the same: the U.S. embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. Netanyahu added that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, saying that he hopes a wave of foreign embassies will follow a U.S. move to Jerusalem. The prime minister said that he believes most embassies will eventually make the move.

Netanyahu's comments follow a Haaretz interview with Marc Zell, the co-chair of the Republicans Overseas organization in Israel, who said that the Trump Administration's recent foot-dragging on the embassy move is happening at Israel's request.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised that he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Both he and his surrogates, particularly when campaigning in the Jewish community and among U.S. voters in Israel, stressed that unlike past presidents from both parties, he would keep his commitment and actually do it.

Expectations ran high when, on January 19, the day before inauguration, Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer told a press conference that an announcement on moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is "coming soon" and encouraged journalists to "stay tuned."

Last Sunday, Trump and Netanyahu spoke by telephone. The topic of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem wasn’t mentioned either in the statement released by the Prime Minister's Office or in the one published by the White House, and there has been no indication as to whether or not the subject will be on the agenda when the two leaders meet in February.

Ever since the phone call, it seems as if the brakes have been put on any plans to announce an embassy move, if the signals from the White House are any indication.

Last Monday, Spicer told reporters at a White House briefing that the administration was only "at the very beginning stages of even discussing" an embassy move. By Tuesday, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, believed to be close to both Trump and his chief of staff Reince Priebus cited a source in the administration as saying “they are not going to move on Jerusalem for quite some time.”