Netanyahu Claims Embassy Move To Jerusalem Would 'Advance' Peace Process

Israeli Prime Minister Bennjamin Netanyahu on Sunday responded to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's noncommittal statements over moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact the peace process", Tillerson said.

Israel has dismissed concerns in the United States over plans to relocate the USA embassy to Jerusalem, saying the contentious issue would advance the peace process with the Palestinians, not harm it.

"It will do the opposite", his office said in a statement.

Israel seized in 1967 the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians want to establish their future state.

However, Israel's Channel 2 reports that while planning the visit, a Trump aide questioned Israel's control over the holy site, located in disputed East Jerusalem.

A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu expressed his desire that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem in his meetings with Trump and Tillerson during his latest visit in Washington. In 1980, Israel declared "reunited" Jerusalem its capital in a move unrecognized by major states.

But since taking office, Trump has called for restraint in settlement construction and signaled he is no hurry to move the embassy.

A senior member of a United States delegation preparing for President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Israel reportedly snapped that the Western Wall is "not your territory" while discussing details of the president's visit to the Jerusalem holy site with with Israeli counterparts on Monday.

It is not clear who, exactly, the "senior American official" was, but Israel's Ha'aretz identified the culpable parties as "diplomats stationed at the USA consulate in Jerusalem".

Trump promised during his presidential campaign to move the USA embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel's capital and remarked on the pledge in an interview the day before his inauguration, saying: "You know, I'm not a person who breaks promises".

"This is Prime Minister Netanyahu's consistent and clear stance", his office clarified.

The following day, Trump is set to travel to Jerusalem, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among other Israeli leaders.

Abbas said "it's about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and our land" - a reference to Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

One of Trump's top advisers, Jason Greenblatt, held wide-ranging talks with both Israelis and Palestinians during a visit in March. Earlier this month, White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr. said on Facebook that the president would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in "Palestine".

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