Israel speeds up U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem

March 28 (UPI) — Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Wednesday signed a waiver allowing U.S. State Department officials to skip applying for rezoning and construction permits while upgrading an interim embassy facility in Jerusalem.

The move speeds up the process of building new security infrastructure at the site of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Construction will include an escape road, something every U.S. Embassy has, and a 10-foot security wall around the site. Both would have required a zoning change before construction could begin.

In December, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in what he said was the “pursuit of peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. As part of the decision, Trump announced the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv this year.

Kahlon said the move is a “historic moment for which we’ve waited for many years.”

“As finance minister, as a citizen of Israel and as a Jew, there was nothing more important to work on, to invest effort in, than bringing the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and earning this recognition that Jerusalem as the capital of Israel forever, as recognized by the Jewish people and the most important of our friends, the U.S.,” Kahlon said.

The first phase of the embassy’s move is planned for May, coinciding with Israel’s 70th birthday celebrations.