President Donald Trump. (AP/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Donald Trump

Israel and the US are discussing the US embassy move to Jerusalem, although it is not imminent. 

The White House on Sunday issued a “clarification” stating that the US and Israel have begun to discuss the issue of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The clarification was issued after Israel’s Channel 2 quoted an anonymous source as saying that the White House would announce the move on Monday. The report said the statement could not be confirmed.

The White House published the clarification to dispel rumors that President Donald Trump had imminent plans to announce the move. “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement.

The clarification was issued shortly before Trump spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and invited him to Washington in February.

The Prime Minister’s Office characterized the conversation as “very warm,” while the White House said it was “very nice.”

Trump’s campaign promise to move the US embassy was met with applause by Israel but was strongly condemned by the Palestinians, who have threatened to react with violence to such a move.

Trump said on Thursday, hours before he officially entered the Oval Office, that he plans to follow through with his campaign pledge to relocate the embassy.

Speaking on Monday to IDF Radio, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat said he has learned that the US officials discussing  the issue are serious in their intent to follow through, adding, however, that such a move could not happen in a day.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent messages to Trump urging him not to move the embassy and warning that he would revoke PA recognition of Israel if the move takes place.

Abbas met on Sunday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman. Jordan, which serves as the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has threatened that moving the embassy would cross a “red line.”

“We discussed the possibility of moving the embassy, and we say that if this thing happens, then we have measures that we agreed to implement together with Jordan,” Abbas said. “And we hope that the American administration will not do that,” Wafa, the official PA news agency, reported.

Abbas has reportedly asked Abdullah to help him establish a direct line with Washington after failing to do so himself.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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