Tel Aviv, Ramallah- The new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, decided to reside in Jerusalem, even before his country makes a final decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.
U.S. President Donald Trump has previously announced his country would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The White House on Sunday said, however, it was in the first phases of the negotiations regarding implementing the decision.
The Trump administration is “at the very beginning stages of even discussing” moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, White House speaker Sean Spicer said.
Friedman is expected to reside at a spacious apartment, which he owns in Jerusalem rather than in the U.S. ambassador’s residence in the city of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv.
The new U.S. ambassador is known for his close relationship with the Israeli right and particularly the Council for Jewish Settlements.
Although Friedman has not yet received the U.S. Senate approval for his new posting, he has already confirmed that he will arrive in Israel end of February to resume his task.
At closed meetings, Friedman says he plans to live in Jerusalem, even if his country does not move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.
Sources at the Israeli foreign ministry said that contacts made with Trump’s team showed that the new president seriously intends to keep good on his promises to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Israel increased its pressure on Palestinians by giving the green light to approve 566 building permits in three settlements located in the annexed east Jerusalem. The Israeli decision came as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Jordan to coordinate a joint position with King Abdullah II.
Israelis bet that Trump will be more welcoming than former President Barack Obama to the settlement policy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke late on Sunday with Trump about issues related to the Palestinians, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threats.