The U.S. will reportedly move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem much sooner than previously anticipated.
Last month, Vice President Mike Pence told Israeli lawmakers that the move would occur by the end of 2019, but Israel's Channel 10 News reports that the date has been moved up to May 14, which marks the 70th anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence. The White House has yet to confirm the development, though Axios cited an anonymous U.S. official in its report.
Citing unnamed Israeli officials, Axios explains that the relocated embassy will first operate as an "interim embassy" at the U.S.'s consular annex in Jerusalem until the State Department decides on a new permanent location. Earlier Friday, The Associated Press reported that the State Department was considering paying for "some or all of the [new] embassy costs" via donations from Republican donors, including pro-Israel billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson.
The U.S. announced in December that it would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move its embassy to the contested city. Israeli lawmakers applauded the decision, but the announcement sparked immediate pushback from Arab states as Palestinians also lay claim to Jerusalem and say it should be their capital in a future state.