Israeli Channel 2 has reported that the US embassy is starting to transfer equipment from their Tel Aviv office to a hotel in Jerusalem, a preliminary step to moving the country’s headquarters to the city.
Following the announcement of US President Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the US also stated their intention to move the embassy to the city, although a completion time has not been made public.
Eyewitnesses in the Arnon neighbourhood reported seeing large trucks unloading equipment inside the Eidan Hotel yesterday, which was allegedly closed due to a lack of visitors. However, the hotel is now playing host to the US embassy’s equipment, with the proposed building situated less than one kilometre away.
The US consulate in Jerusalem currently operates two facilities, the main branch on Agron Street and the consular section on Flusser Street in Arnon. In 2014, the US purchased a building next to the Flusser Street offices known as the Diplomat Hotel, which could be used as an annexe for the embassy or the consulate.
A limited crew of US diplomats are expected to settle in the new embassy in the coming months. The move is being kept quiet, with cameramen being asked to leave the vicinity according to the Palestinian Information Centre.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the US will relocate their embassy to Jerusalem within the year, but he later amended his remarks after President Trump denied that would be the case.
An official in Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister recognised that construction of a new embassy will take years but believes Washington is considering “interim measures that could result in an embassy opening much faster”.
In an address to the Knesset on Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence pledged that Washington would relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of next year.