US embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is “probably no earlier than three years out,” said the Secretary of State.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv is “not going to be anything that happens right away … it’s probably no earlier than three years out.”
During remarks given on Tuesday at the State Department, Tillerson was asked about the challenges he foresees as a result of the move of the US diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Tillerson stressed that the move is “not going to be anything that happens right away.”
“The President has been very clear in his direction to me and to the State Department that with this decision, and by the law – by the law of the 1995 law…we will begin taking the actions necessary to move the embassy,” Tillerson stated.
However, “we’ve got to secure a site that’s suitable. We’ve got to develop building plans that gives us the footprint that we believe we need to carry out the full complements of a mission in Israel, in Jerusalem. And then we have to build the building, and then we make the move,” he explained.
Therefore, “there’s nothing going to happen in the next couple of years because it’ll take us that time to get to a stage that we can begin to actually implement the building itself. So it’s probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious as it is, but the President has said move ahead,” Tillerson said.
The US has reportedly already begun to seek out potential sites for the embassy in Jerusalem, and has already contacted architects for work on the plans for the building.
Congressman Ron DeSantis visited Israel in March and checked out potential sites in Jerusalem for the US embassy, which he believes will be moved from Tel Aviv under the Trump administration.
Another option suggested was that the ambassador would relocate his office to the already existing US consulate in Jerusalem, a move that can be made immediately.
Beyond these technical issues, Tillerson does not “expect that there won’t be any issues other than our ability to just execute on as swift a schedule as we can.”
Tillerson, together with Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, reportedly argued against the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or the moving of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the absence of a peace deal.
According to the report, when President Donald Trump made clear his determination to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, they argued for him to sign a waiver delaying the embassy move by another six months, which he did. However, Trump did announce the US has commenced with preparations to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
While Trump’s statement on Jerusalem was infused with history, religion and sentiment, Tillerson’s comment on the issue was very matter-of-fact.
Tillerson stated after Trump’s announcement that the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “aligns US presence with the reality that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, Supreme Court, President’s office, and Prime Minister‘s office.” He underscored the US commitment to a diplomatic process in the Middle East, saying Washington “firmly believes there is an opportunity for a lasting peace.”