«Israel» Fast-Tracks Wall, Escape Route for New US Embassy
The "Israeli" entity has expedited construction permits to enable temporary quarters for the US Embassy to open in occupied al-Quds [Jerusalem] as planned in May, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump in December broke with other world powers by recognizing occupied al-Quds as the "Israeli" entity's so-called capital and announcing the US Embassy would be moved there from Tel Aviv.
Trump's reversal of decades of US and broad international policy was welcomed by "Israeli" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "historic decision." But it drew criticism from around the world and outraged Palestinians, who want a capital for their own future state in eastern parts of the city.
The entity has said the embassy will be opened on May 14, the 70th anniversary of the entity's founding. A US official said it would be located at a provisional site in al-Quds that now houses a US consular section.
Building a permanent embassy could take several years.
So-called Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said in a statement that he would empower the al-Quds municipality to waive the permits that would have been required for a wall and an escape route at the interim site.
"This is a strategic diplomatic move for the state of Israel and the planning agencies under me will do whatever is necessary to accommodate the schedule being demanded," Kahlon said.
Al-Quds Mayor Nir Barkat had voiced concern about the timeline, telling "Israel" Radio on March 9: "I hope their [Americans'] schedule will be kept."
The "Israeli" planning permit waiver for the embassy will be good for three years, the Finance Ministry statement said.
"Initially, the interim embassy in [the Jerusalem (al-Quds) neighborhood of Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador and a small staff," a United States Embassy official in Tel Aviv said.
"By the end of next year, we intend to open a new ‘embassy Jerusalem' annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space," he said, adding that the search for a site for the construction of a permanent embassy had begun.
The embassy move could destroy prospects of a "two-state" solution to the decades-old Middle East conflict, the Palestinians have warned.
Trump, however, said the move was "a long overdue step to advance the ‘peace' process."
Trump's decision has prompted deadly protests and 128 states condemned it in a UN General Assembly vote in December.
Only seven smaller countries aligned themselves with Washington.
Palestinian leaders said Washington's decision meant it was no longer an honest broker in efforts to revive talks, which collapsed in 2014.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team