Report: Kushner, Netanyahu Discussed Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Netanyahu meets with U.S. delegation including Ambassador David Friedman, Jared Kushner, Dina Powell, Jason Greenblatt, on August 24, 2017, (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and other top White House officials once again discussed moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Kushner was in Israel as part of a delegation sent by Trump to the region with the aim of jumpstarting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He was joined by Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell.

During the meeting with Netanyahu, the embassy transfer “was brought up by both sides as part of a productive broad conversation about a number of issues,” a U.S. source told the Times of Israel.

During his campaign, Trump promised that one of his first acts as president would be to move the embassy to Jerusalem. In June, however, he backpedaled and signed a waiver that maintains its current Tel Aviv location for an additional six months. White House officials at the time gave assurances that an embassy transfer would nevertheless take place during Trump’s term as president.

“Needless to say, the administration’s policy is ‘when not if,’” the source said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Times of Israel earlier on Sunday that, to her chagrin, the embassy issue was not raised during the meetings. “We were told that the move [of the embassy] would go ahead but it wasn’t on the table and there hasn’t been any progress on it. I hope there will be soon,” she said.

However, a source in the Prime Minister’s Office contradicted Hotovely’s remarks. “She wasn’t in any of the meetings and, to put it charitably, she is wrong,” they said.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the topic was indeed discussed between Trump’s delegation and Netanyahu. It released a statement saying that “the Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to President [Donald] Trump and the Trump administration for its strong support of Israel.”

Kushner thanked Netanyahu on behalf of his father-in-law for working towards a resolution with the Palestinians.

“The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area,” he said. “We really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and and respectfully in the way that the president has asked him to do so.”

Vanity Fair magazine reported last week that while he served as White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon heavily lobbied Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but Kushner blocked the move, three Bannon allies told the publication.

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