U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says President Donald Trump’s is concerned about how moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would affect the Mideast peace process.
“I think it’ll be informed, again, by the parties that are involved in those talks and most certainly…whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction,” Tillerson told NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted immediately.
“Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will not harm the peace process. It will do the opposite,” his office said in a statement. “It will advance it by righting an historical wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”
Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and regards the entire city as its eternal capital. It has long urged the international community to relocate embassies there.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and Israel’s allies have been reluctant to move their embassies.
Trump promised to relocate the U.S. embassy as one of his campaign pledges. He has yet to make any concrete moves toward carrying out that promise.
Trump will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of his first foreign trip as president later this week.