US to move embassy to Jerusalem by year's end, Netanyahu says

The United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of the year, Israeli Prime Minister Ben...

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 9:48 AM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 9:48 AM

The United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of the year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

That would be much quicker than expected, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying last month it was "not something that is going to happen this year, probably not next year."

Netanyahu made the comments while on an official state visit to India, his office told CNN.

However, President Donald Trump denied that the planned relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would take place within a year on Wednesday in an interview with Reuters.

Asked about Netanyahu's comments, Trump said, "By the end of the year? We're talking about different scenarios -- I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We're not really looking at that. That's no."

As recently as December 8, Tillerson was telling reporters that the US still needed to acquire a site, make construction and building plans, ensure necessary authorizations, and then build the embassy itself.

If Netanyahu's assertion proves right, then it suggests the US is not going to wait until a new building is complete, but may take advantage of its two existing consular facilities in Jerusalem, and re-purpose one of them as its embassy.

CNN is reaching out to US officials and will update this story if they respond.

Trump's recognition last month of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and plans to relocate the embassy there, inflamed tensions in the region and sparked outrage across the world.

The announcement was condemned by 128 countries in a United Nations General Assembly vote in December, with nine countries supporting the decision and 35 abstaining, amid threats from the US to pull funding from the world body.

Palestinian funding cut

Netanyahu's comments Wednesday come one day after the US announced it would freeze $65 million in funding to the UN agency dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees. The agency has become a frequent target of criticism from Netanyahu.

The US said Tuesday that it will hold back more than half of the $125 million of a scheduled payment to the UN Relief Works Agency, which provides humanitarian aid, education, social services and medical care to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

The decision drew condemnation from Palestinians, praise from Israel, and expressions of deep concern from UN officials and refugee groups worried about the humanitarian impact and particularly the potential for further destabilization of a region already reeling from conflict in Syria.

Defending the US decision to freeze funds, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "A big part of the reason we didn't [freeze the full amount], after a lot of interagency deliberations, is we thought this would have a big impact." Nauert said the US would like to see reforms at UNRWA and called on other countries to contribute more to the relief agency.

The US provides approximately 30% of UNRWA's $1.4 billion budget.

Abbas: Palestinians offered Abu Dis

Earlier in the week Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appeared to confirm reports that the Trump administration had earmarked Abu Dis, a town adjacent to Jerusalem, as the capital of a future Palestinian state, during a speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Central Council.

Previous US administrations have hewed to the international consensus that East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City and its key religious sites, would be the capital of any Palestinian state, subject to final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

The White House did not respond to CNN's earlier request for comment on Abbas' remarks.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 697533

Reported Deaths: 13138
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion951321706
Lake50779930
Allen38511669
Hamilton33981404
St. Joseph33279535
Elkhart26810431
Vanderburgh21931393
Tippecanoe21440212
Johnson17325371
Porter17012297
Hendricks16631308
Clark12592190
Madison12223335
Vigo12089243
Monroe11237166
LaPorte10601204
Delaware10241182
Howard9555211
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Floyd7501175
Wayne6846196
Grant6724167
Boone647399
Morgan6335137
Dubois6052117
Marshall5709108
Cass5657102
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Henry5545100
Noble532583
Jackson489469
Shelby474095
Lawrence4305118
Gibson424988
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Ohio55311
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1037600

Reported Deaths: 18827
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1203461345
Cuyahoga1048492040
Hamilton774221164
Montgomery49484984
Summit44494904
Lucas39105757
Butler37437566
Stark31094890
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Lake19698360
Clermont19305226
Delaware17783130
Licking15970205
Fairfield15493195
Trumbull15377458
Medina14662255
Greene14484233
Clark13433287
Wood12547182
Portage12144193
Allen11216229
Richland10899197
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Muskingum8639127
Columbiana8478225
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Marion8297135
Erie7415153
Ross6636145
Hancock6595123
Geauga6449146
Ashtabula6355163
Scioto625299
Belmont5518158
Union550847
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Huron5229112
Darke5225121
Jefferson5210147
Sandusky5087118
Seneca5048118
Washington5029107
Athens493654
Auglaize470484
Mercer467884
Shelby453289
Knox4332108
Putnam417298
Madison416157
Ashland408986
Fulton402165
Defiance395096
Brown383855
Crawford3819100
Logan369676
Preble367995
Clinton356859
Ottawa351978
Highland344858
Williams317574
Champaign317055
Jackson304451
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Perry286449
Fayette276348
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Henry261266
Hardin261063
Coshocton255957
Holmes251499
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Gallia232146
Pike230931
Adams226151
Wyandot224153
Hocking207057
Carroll187746
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Meigs140838
Noble131737
Monroe128441
Morgan105722
Harrison104836
Vinton80913
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Rain showers continue Saturday evening, as will a few thunderstorms. Overnight, rain will taper off a little as temperatures drop into the mid 40s. On Sunday, rain chances return in late morning and last much of the day. Temperatures max out in the mid 50s and winds will be brisk at times.
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