US 'discussing' moving Israel embassy to Jerusalem
The White House said, on Sunday, that it is in the early stages of talks to fulfil President Donald Trump's pledge to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move opposed by the Palestinian leadership.
"We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer. Hundreds of Palestinians protested against the plans in cities across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to local media reports.
Trump reportedly spoke to hardline, right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the day.
Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, welcomed the Trump administration's an- nouncement.
"This evening's announcement has sent a clear message to the world that the US recognises Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of the State of Israel," Barkat said in a statement.
"We will provide any and all necessary assistance to the US administration to ensure that the embassy move is done seamlessly and efficiently."
Palestinians and their leadership strongly opposed the move.
Earlier this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly wrote to Trump, who was presidentelect at the time, telling him not to move the US embassy.
Abbas warned that such a move would have a "disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region", Palestinian news agency Wafa reported at the time.
Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington in early February during a phone call in which they discussed the importance of strengthening the US-Israeli relationship, the White House said on Sunday.
In his first call with Netanyahu since taking office on Friday, Trump stressed his "unprecedented commitment to Israel's security."
"The president and the prime minister agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran," the White House said in a statement.