US Embassy in Tel Aviv
US Embassy in Tel Aviv Reuters

The US State Department said that it "looks forward to opening the new Embassy of the United States in Jerusalem" in a congratulatory statement it issued in honor of Israel's 70th Independence Day.

"The State of Israel has prevailed over every challenge it has faced over the past 70 years. In just a short time, the people of Israel have created a successful nation that has flourished and continues to thrive,” said acting Secretary of State John Sullivan.

“The United States established our diplomatic presence in Jerusalem well before the State of Israel was born, over 170 years ago. This year, we look forward to opening the new Embassy of the United States in Jerusalem on May 14 which coincides with the 70th anniversary of President Truman recognizing the nascent State of Israel," continued Sullivan.

“Israel and the United States have an unshakeable bond that has endured and grown even stronger over the past seven decades."

The State Department's announcement follows a similar congratulatory message issued on Wednesday evening by President Trump. ?Best wishes to Prime Minister Netanyahu and all of the people of Israel on the 70th Anniversary of your Great Independence. We have no better friends anywhere. Looking forward to moving our Embassy to Jerusalem next month!" tweeted the president.

The US embassy is expected to be transferred to Jerusalem in three stages.

On May 14th – Israel’s 70th Independence Day – the US will open an interim embassy facility in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, converting what is currently used as a US consulate into a temporary embassy.

The embassy will initially house the US Ambassador’s office, and a small portion of the staff currently located at the embassy in Tel Aviv.

The Arnona compound will be expanded, with the addition of a new annex, likely by the end of 2019.

State Department officials are also planning for the construction of a new embassy in Jerusalem to replace the interim facility at Arnona, though this third step is expected to take years to complete.

According to a report carried by The Times of Israel on Wednesday afternoon, Jared and Ivanka Kushner are considering flying to Israel next month to represent the Trump administration at the May 14th unveiling of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

While the couple is considering participating in the unveiling ceremony, no final decision has yet been made.

President Trump vowed on December 6th to relocate the US embassy from its present location in Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, fulfilling a campaign promise to implement the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires the State Department to transfer the US mission in Israel to Jerusalem.

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