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Netanyahu Denies Asking Trump Not to Move Embassy

Netanyahu Denies Asking Trump Not to Move Embassy

US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Days before the USA president starts a Middle East trip that includes meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Tillerson told NBC channel that Trump's decision would depend greatly on how it is seen by governments in the region, including "whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction".

A dramatic rift was created between Washington and Jerusalem as US President Donald Trump's team as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's team both issued harsh statements on Monday evening less than a week prior to the president's much-expected visit to Israel.

Israel's position is that all embassies should be in its capital, Jerusalem, but the worldwide community has maintained that the status of the city should only be decided when there is a peace treaty with the Palestinians, who insist that the eastern half of Jerusalem should be their capital.

The worldwide community does not recognize Israeli control over eastern Jerusalem, and after Israel's parliament in 1980 declared the city to be Israel's eternal and indivisible capital, the last few countries to have embassies in the city withdrew.

"Furthermore, during a meeting between Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and then-National Security Adviser-designate Michael Flynn on January 16, "[Dermer] explained why moving the embassy would help advance peace and not the opposite".

Meanwhile, Adelson has been stewing for some time; he was reportedly frustrated earlier this month that Trump hasn't already moved the embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump will arrive in Israel on May 22, when he will visit the Western Wall and meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu.

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In recent weeks, press reports in Israel indicated that the Trump administration was not planning to move the embassy.

Tillerson said Sunday that Trump would seek further guidance on the embassy relocation to determine "whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction".

Friedman, who visited the Western Wall after his arrival on Monday, said Trump had given him "the unequivocal and unambiguous mandate to support the state of Israel in every way and in all ways".

Jerusalem's Western Wall (Kotel) with the Temple Mount in the background.

The US and other countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Separately, Israelis were riled on Monday by a report on Channel 2 news that a member of the United States delegation making preparations for Mr Trump's visit rejected a request that Mr Netanyahu accompany Mr Trump when he visits the Western Wall, the Jewish religious site that lies in Jerusalem's Israeli-occupied eastern half.

The Palestinian Authority is based in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.

Trump pledged during his presidential campaign to relocate the embassy, telling the pro-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2016 that he wanted to "move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem".


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