Netanyahu: At least six states in ‘serious’ talks to move embassies to Jerusalem
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Netanyahu: At least six states in ‘serious’ talks to move embassies to Jerusalem

In Independence Day meeting with foreign diplomats, PM says first ten countries to make the relocation will get 'preferential treatment'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin (C) meet foreign diplomats at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Israel's 70th Independence Day on April 19, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin (C) meet foreign diplomats at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Israel's 70th Independence Day on April 19, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at least six countries were in talks with Israel to move their embassies to Jerusalem. He implored countries to follow the United States and Guatemala in making the move, saying it would advance peace efforts, and promised “preferential treatment” to the first ten embassies relocated to Israel’s capital.

“We’re happy about [US] President [Donald] Trump’s decision to move the embassy here. It says a simple thing: Peace must be based on truth,” Netanyahu told foreign diplomats at an Independence Day event at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence.

“Recognizing reality is the way to build peace. You cannot build peace on the basis of lies because it crashes against the rocks of reality,” he added. “The fact that Israel has a capital city, that the Jewish people has had a capital city for 3,000 years named Jerusalem, is undeniable. It is time to acknowledge that fact.

“I am happy to say there are at least half-a-dozen countries seriously talking with us about relocating their embassies to Jerusalem, and thank you Guatemala for doing so. There will be more following in your steps,” the prime minister said, without identifying the countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin (C) meet foreign diplomats at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Israel’s 70th Independence Day on April 19, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“There is a simple principle, you know it — ‘first come first serve,’” Netanyahu continued. “I have decided that the first ten embassies that arrive here will get preferential treatment. We’ll help you!”

Trump vowed to move the US embassy to the holy city last December, when he also formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In January, he announced that the process would be expedited and a new facility would open in May, to coincide with Israel’s birthday.

US President Donald Trump welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN)

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for mid-May. Trump has not committed to attending the inauguration. The Times of Israel has learned that Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband and presidential adviser Jared Kushner are considering traveling to Israel to attend.

The Palestinians have seen the move as a provocation, and have said it effectively negates the possibility of the Trump administration serving as an honest broker in peace talks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials have since refused to meet with Trump’s Mideast peace team.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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