(UPI) The State Department is considering an offer from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson to help pay a new embassy in Jerusalem after moving from Tel Aviv.
Initially, the embassy will open on May 14 — timed with Israel’s 70th celebration of independence — at its refurbished consular facility in Arnona, the State Department announced Friday.
State Department officials said that process of a formal compound could take at least five to seven years at a cost of at least $500 million. Currently, the United States has a consulate in Jerusalem with 200 employees and three buildings.
Adelson, a major Republican donor, had lobbied President Donald Trump to relocate the embassy to the holy city.
Steve Goldstein, the under secretary for public diplomacy, confirmed in a Jerusalem Post report that the administration was determining whether it would be legal and ethical to accept the gift.
According to the State Department’s foreign affairs manual, the United States considers gifts on a case-by-case basis and attempts to avoid the appearance of a conflict.
Last December, Trump announced the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital and move its embassy to Jerusalem. The move earned praise in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but scorn from Arabs. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
In addition, the Palestinians have said they won’t negotiate peace with Israel as long as the United States is involved and recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
On Friday, Trump, during an address of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, said recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “the right thing to do.” It was a 2016 campaign pledge.
Adelson is a staunch supporter of Netanyahu and funds Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu newspaper in Israel.