Rather than wait three-plus years to build a new US embassy in Jerusalem, US officials are speeding up the move from Tel Aviv. A new, more affordable plan will see an existing consular building in the Arnona neighborhood of West Jerusalem converted into a new embassy, officials tell the New York Times. The building, where US citizens currently receive visas and other consular services, will need to be adapted to suit an ambassador and classified operations but already has "better physical security than the embassy in Tel Aviv," per the Times. The State Department expects the move to take place as early as next year, though Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steven Goldstein says "we will do this at the pace of security, not at the pace of politics."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first suggested Wednesday the move would take place "within a year," reports Reuters. President Trump responded, "I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We're not really looking at that." The new plan was decided a day later after backing by Trump adviser Jared Kushner, former Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt, and former Trump bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, reports CBS News. It's a sign the administration "no longer cares about cushioning the blow of the new policy," reports the Times, which prompted widespread protests on the basis that East Jerusalem is viewed as the capitol of a future Palestinian state. The Times notes the accelerated move will please evangelical voters and pro-Israel Americans ahead of the midterms. (Read more Jerusalem stories.)