WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The decision on whether the United States will have an interim facility before it establishes a permanent embassy in Jerusalem is still pending, a senior US State Department official told reporters on Friday.
“An embassy move has two dimensions to it … One is the construction of an appropriate permanent embassy. That is a process that takes anywhere in the world time,” the official said.
“The other aspect of this is is it possible to have an interim facility which meets all of the overseas security and functionality requirements, safety, security function for our personnel? Can that be done on a shorter timeframe than a permanent construction project? And the decisions with respect to that second course — the interim facility — are with the secretary have not been taken.”
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, made in January 18, that the much-expected move of the US embassy to Jerusalem will happen sometime in 2018, this information was refuted by US President Donald Trump as well as Netanyahu’s own office.
As an Israeli official has explained later, Netanyahu meant the temporary embassy would be opened before the end of 2018, thus the president and the prime minister were “not saying anything different”.
According to the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s explanations in mid-December, the embassy was likely to be relocated no earlier than 2020, or even later.
The statement was made in the light of controversial and widely criticized US decision, announced on December 6 by Donald Trump, to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital and to move the country’s embassy there. This move sparked controversy and protests across the world, especially in the Arab states.
However, this decision was refuted by the UN resolution, which officially considers East Jerusalem to be occupied Palestinian territory and has repeatedly condemned the Israeli presence there.
Despite the fact that Israel considers Jerusalem as the eternal, indivisible capital of the Jewish people, the international community has never recognized the Israeli declaration or annexation.
The Holy City has been Israel’s de facto capital since they annexed East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. The Israeli Prime Minister lives in Jerusalem and their unicameral legislature, the Knesset, meet in Jerusalem.