Report: U.S. Ambassador in Israel Will Work Out of Consular Office Building in Jerusalem by 2019

This decision was reached against the advice of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who warned about the need to complete security steps, said the report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. ambassador David Friedman, Dec 4, 2017, Jerusalem
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration is working to find a temporary solution that would allow its ambassador in Israel, David Friedman, to move his office to an existing building in Jerusalem in 2019, before the construction of a new embassy building in the city. The administration's intention was first reported this week by Israel's main television news company, and was confirmed on Thursday by the New York Times.

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The Times report stated that until a new embassy will be built, Friedman will work out of a building in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, which currently serves as an American consular office.

The decision to start working out of the Arnona consular office, the report stated, would "reduce the cost of the project and allow Ambassador Friedman and his staff to move there as early as next year." The report added that this decision was reached against the advice of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who warned about the need to complete security steps before settling on the Arnona building.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the U.S. would move its embassy to Jerusalem within a year, based on what he called, "a solid assessment."

U.S. President Donald Trump denied Netanyahu's assertions but may have alluding to the potential for the embassy not to move in its entirety, but rather making temporary arrangements allowing more embassy work to take place in Jerusalem.

The prime minister's comments Wednesday about the embassy follow Trump's historic announcement in December that the United States was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. That announcement ended decades of an American policy of neutrality regarding the city, sparking outrage among Palestinians who claim the eastern section of it as their future capital.

One of Trump's campaign promises was to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It's considered a volatile move that could spark serious violence which is why successive U.S. presidents have chosen to sign a waiver twice a year that officially delays such a move. Trump too signed such a waiver just after he made his announcement.