JERUSALEM/BRUSSELS—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expects the US Embassy to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within a year.
The Prime Minister, who is currently on a state visit to India, told journalists on a flight from Delhi to Gujarat: “My solid assessment is that it will go much faster than you think: within a year from now.”
Last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that relocating the embassy to Jerusalem would likely take at least three years, and quite possibly longer. “It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” he said in a speech at the State Department reported by The New York Times. “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.”
Trump promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a December 6 speech at the White House in which he also formally recognized the city as Israel’s capital.
Trump’s controversial decision sparked protests in some countries and was rejected in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution. The recognition was welcomed in Israel and , and Guatemala has since announced it will follow the US in moving its embassy to the city.
The European Union expressed alarm at the US decision last month during Netanyahu’s visit to Brussels.
EU’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini bluntly rejected Netanyahu’s suggestion that European countries would follow the US in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“I know that Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned a couple of times that he expects others to follow President Trump decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” Mogherini said following a meeting of the 28 EU Foreign Ministers in December.
“He can keep his expectations for others, because from the European Union Member States side this move will not come,” she said highlighting unity behind the EU’s position on Jerusalem and the Middle East Peace Process.
She said there won’t be any change to EU’s stance on Jerusalem. Mogherini and the EU Foreign Ministers are to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and discuss the Middle East Process next Monday in Brussels.