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.
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.
US President Donald 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.