Israel plans to build a compound for embassies in Jerusalem to encourage more countries to relocate their diplomatic missions to the city, Israeli media reported yesterday. Planned to be built across 25 acres of land, the compound will accommodate nine separate embassies, Israeli Channel 7 reported. It said the building will include both embassy facilities and housing for embassy staff. "I am convinced that many more countries will relocate their embassies to Jerusalem," Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant said, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA). "We are currently planning possible [embassy] complexes for other countries, which are expected to move their embassies to Jerusalem," he added.
The move came months after the U.S. administration's controversial decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. U.S. President Trump outraged the Arab world and stoked international concern by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December. Palestinians sued the U.S. at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the first time over the Jerusalem Embassy move that violates international obligations flowing from the Vienna Convention. The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel and the Palestine and Palestinian leaders accused Trump of sowing instability by overturning decades of U.S. policy. The embassy was officially transferred on May 14, with Guatemala and Paraguay following suit, although the latter announced in October it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv. In a further move that reflects American recognition of Israeli control over East Jerusalem, the mayor of Jerusalem last month authorized the U.S. Embassy to expand its buildings by around 700 square meters.
Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. Most foreign nations have avoided locating embassies there for fear of prejudging peace talks on the city's final status. According to Israeli media, other countries are expected to open embassies in Jerusalem in the near future, including Australia, Honduras and the Czech Republic. Poised to follow the U.S. president in his most radical foreign policy position, Brazil's far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, last month, vowed to become the next country to follow and move its embassy to Jerusalem.