A senior American official on Tuesday reportedly said that US President Donald Trump intends to fulfill his pledge to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, but that it will not happen immediately.
“We’ll move the embassy, just give us time,” the unnamed official said, according to Channel 2 news.
The official also called on Israeli lawmakers to stop pressuring the US over moving the embassy, saying that it only damages the chances of it happening, the report said.
The Haaretz daily reported similar reasurences, saying that US officials told their Israeli counterparts that even if Trump waives a law later this month requiring the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, the US president will honor his campaign promise to move the American mission by the end of his first term in January 2021.
However, Israeli officials said that they had not heard from the US that Trump will in fact move the embassy at some point.
Tuesday’s reports came amid calls by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several Israeli lawmakers for the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, following comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday that Trump is weighing whether the move would help or harm the prospects of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Despite promising during the 2016 presidential campaign that he would move the US embassy, Trump has since hedged on the plan amid his increasing efforts to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
At a meeting with new US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Tuesday, Netanyahu again reiterated his call to move the embassy, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu also told the US envoy “it’s a joy to see you and to welcome you to Jerusalem, our eternal capital,” in an apparent reference to Friedman’s comment after being tapped for the post that he looked “forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Despite his pledge to work from Jerusalem, Friedman — who also owns an apartment in the city — will work out of the Tel Aviv embassy and live at the ambassador’s official residence in Herzliya. In addition, he will use an office at the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem, as many of his predecessors have.