An unofficial U.S. delegation arrived in Jerusalem Saturday night to reportedly examine the potential for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, local media reported. Led by Congressman Ron DeSantis, the delegation will prepare a report with recommendations on the controversial move, Israel Radio quoted Israeli political adviser Ruth Lieberman, who is close to DeSantis, as saying.
The potential move was promised by US President Donald Trump during his election campaign but he has since appeared to tone down his commitment to it. Trump is following through on a promised shift in U.S. policy toward Israel after years of friction between former President Barack Obama and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
While campaigning for the presidency, Trump pledged to switch the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been located for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel's capital regardless of international objections.
Israel and the Palestinians, who are seeking a state of their own, both claim Jerusalem as their capital. Successive U.S. administrations have said the city's status must be negotiated. If Trump makes good on his campaign promise, it would upend decades of U.S. policy and draw international condemnation. Jerusalem is home to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
The move has been opposed by Palestinians who see it as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite the city's disputed status and the occupation of East Jerusalem. "Embarking on such a move is a grave violation of international and humanitarian law and UN resolutions, is evidently biased toward Israel and would legitimize its crimes and absolve it from its 49-year-long occupation," the Palestinian government said in an early statement.Jerusalem remains at the core of the perennial Israel-Palestine conflict, as the Palestinians want Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
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