Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he believed the US embassy in Israel could be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within a year, reports said, contradicting statements from US officials.
“The embassy is going to be moved to Jerusalem faster than you think, certainly within a year,” Netanyahu told journalists accompanying him on an official trip to India, according to Israeli media.
US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6 and pledged to move the embassy to the disputed city, deeply angering the Palestinians and drawing global condemnation.
However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in December that the relocation of the embassy would probably not take place for at least two years.
Trump’s controversial decision sparked protests in some countries and was rejected in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution.
The recognition was welcomed in Israel, and Guatemala has since announced it will follow the U.S. in moving its embassy to the city.
Seventeen Palestinians have been killed since Trump’s announcement, most of them in clashes with Israeli forces. One Israeli has been killed in that time.
Palestinian leaders have threatened to suspend their recognition of Israel in response to Trump’s moves as Arab foreign ministers are set to meet on Feb. 1 in Cairo to discuss steps against Trump’s recognition, the Arab League had earlier said.
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.
No countries currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, instead keeping them in the Israeli commercial capital, Tel Aviv.