The Latest: Trump says he was pressured not to move embassy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Trump administration moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (all times local):
President Donald Trump says moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is “the right thing to do.”
Trump’s addressing his decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He says foreign countries put pressure on him not to move the embassy and begged him, “Don’t do it, don’t do it.”
Trump says the campaign against moving the embassy was “incredible.” But he says the campaign in favor of moving the embassy was also incredible.
Trump says that ultimately, his administration “did the right thing.”
His comments come as the State Department notifies Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy will open in May.
Two Trump administration officials say the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open in May 2018 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.
The officials say Congress is being notified of the impending move on Friday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the security plan for the new embassy on Thursday.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the plan publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A ribbon-cutting is being planned for mid-May. Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948.
The May opening marks a significant acceleration. Vice President Mike Pence had said previously the embassy would open by the end of 2019. And Tillerson had said it could take years.
Initially, the embassy will consist of just a few offices inside an existing U.S. facility in Jerusalem.
President Donald Trump’s administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
Trump administration officials say State Department lawyers are evaluating the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all embassy costs. They say the embassy move cleared its last major hurdle Thursday when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson finally approved a security plan.
The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and demanded anonymity.
Under one scenario, the administration would also solicit contributions from individual donors in the evangelical and American Jewish communities. One official says Adelson offered to pay the difference between the cost and what the administration raises.
Opening a full-fledged embassy will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars.