Making good on a promise that three former presidents made but refused to honor, President Trump has ensured the new US embassy in Jerusalem will now open in 10 weeks. The opening is much earlier than some had predicted and confounds critics who have been saying the move would actually never take place.
The Trump administration is working to make the move by May 2018 in celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, President Trump said, “We officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
“Every president campaigned on, ‘We’re gonna move the embassy,’ then they never pulled it off,” he continued. “It’s the right thing to do.”
The State Department notified Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy will open in May in a temporary location while the US government begins design of a long-term facility that some say will be the most advanced embassy in the world.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on a security plan for the new embassy and then immediately informed Congress.
A ribbon-cutting is being planned for mid-May to mark Israel’s reestablishment as a country 70 years ago on May 14, 1948. Commemorative events are are planned in Kansas City, home of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Truman was quick to recognize Israel and has become an icon in American-Israeli relations.
Initially, the new US embassy will consist of just a few offices inside an existing US consular facility in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem. That facility will be expanded somewhat from its current state.
The Trump administration is considering the legality of an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new US Embassy.
Under one scenario, the administration could also solicit contributions from individual donors in the evangelical and American Jewish communities. But it’s unclear if government lawyers will allow that. It would be the first time that such donations were used to build a U.S. Embassy but many say donations would flood in–thus saving the government the entire cost of the facility.
President Trump announced in December he would be moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition that Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel.
He has stuck by his promise despite facing a backlash from the Palestinian Authority and its supporters.
“I promised to look at the world’s challenges with fresh eyes,” Trump said last year.
“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” he explained.