Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed on Sunday his support for the US embassy to Israel moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, further adding that “all embassies should come here.”
In a statement during the Israeli security cabinet’s weekly meeting, Netanyahu emphasized the “fundamental” relationship between the United States and Israel.
“There is no substitute for this alliance. Our relations are tight and getting tighter, and I would like to take this opportunity to make it unequivocally clear that our position has always been, and will always be, that the US embassy needs to be here, in Jerusalem,” the prime minister said.
“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and it is proper that not only should the American embassy be here, but all embassies should come here, and I believe that over time most of them will indeed come here, to Jerusalem.”
Netanyahu’s statements came two days after US President Donald Trump told Fox News that it was “too early” to talk about his controversial campaign promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
Mark Zell, the co-chairman of the Republican Overseas Israel group had accused Netanyahu earlier on Sunday of being behind Trump’s decision to delay the embassy move, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The prospect of an embassy location change has been met with applause by right-wing Israeli officials and strongly condemned by Palestinians and the international community.
The move would in effect amount to American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, effectively torpedoing efforts to implement a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
The Israeli government has openly expressed its anticipation for a Trump presidency, which right-wing politicians believe will make it easier to advance plans to expand Israeli settlements and consolidate Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.
Last month, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat warned that the PLO would revoke all previously signed agreements with Israel as well as the PLO’s 1993 recognition of Israel if Trump followed through on his pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Erekat reportedly said such a move would indicate the US’s acceptance of “Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem,” and further warned that “any hope of peace in the future will just vanish.”
While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.