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Israel approves new US Embassy building in Jerusalem

US Embassy in Jerusalem on 18 October 2018 [Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images]
US Embassy in Jerusalem on 18 October 2018 [Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images]

The Israeli District Planning and Building Committee in Jerusalem has announced its approval for the construction of a new US Embassy building in the city, AP has reported. The location of the new building will be on Hebron Road, a central thoroughfare, and not far from the current temporary embassy site.

In a statement on Twitter, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said that although another committee must still grant its approval, she expects this to happen in the coming weeks. "After two years, we're thrilled the local planning committee finally approved it," said Hassan-Nahoum. "We've been waiting for a very, very long time and we're happy it finally passed."

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion called the decision "historic and exciting." He thinks that it will inspire other countries to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to the occupied city that Israel claims as its capital.

"I think that this additional step to strengthen the embassy site and the continued move to the capital is the first blossoming of other diplomatic representatives who will move to the capital," explained Lion. "The embassy at the Allenby site will be built on the route of the light rail and strengthen the development of the city for its residents and this follows the master plan for Talpiot which was approved some time ago."

READ: This is what President Biden will not do in the Middle East

US President Donald Trump moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, in a major foreign policy move that went against decades of international consensus. He has also delighted Israeli leaders and angered Palestinians by recognising contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Moreover, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman moved his primary office to the existing US consulate in Arnona the following year. The move upset the Arab world and Western allies. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called it a "slap in the face" and said that the US can no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take a more balanced approach toward Israel and the Palestinians. However, he has said that he does not plan to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

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