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US will move embassy to Jerusalem within the year, says Netanyahu during India trip

The Israeli PM told journalists of his assessment during his high-profile visit to India [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 January, 2018

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Netanyahu made the remarks during his India visit, adding they were based on a 'solid assessment' and that the move was one of several unprecedented US policy changes toward Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem "within the year," in remarks made to journalists accompanying him on his official visit to India.

Netanyahu said this estimation was based on a "solid assessment", but did not elaborate further, according to reports by Haaretz.

He also added that the embassy move was one of several US policy changes that had "never happened before" under the leadership of President Trump, among them also being Trump's proposal to cancel the Iranian nuclear deal, and his decision to withold $65 million worth of aid to UNRWA, the United Nations agency that works with Palestinians displaced by the conflict.

"There are three things happening in the US that never happened before," Netanyahu is reported as saying. "One is moving the US embassy. My solid assessment is that it will go much faster than you think: within a year from now.

"Secondly, there is a dramatic change vis-a-vis Iran. The president has made time [to consider a] necessary change in relation to the nuclear programme. You know that this will happen. Cancelling the agreement is what he said he plans to do."
There are three things happening in the US that never happened before. One is moving the US embassy. My solid assessment is that it will go much faster than you think: within a year from now
"The third thing is to challenge UNRWA for the first time. For 70 years the organisation perpetuates the Palestinian narrative and the abolition of Zionism, and this is the first time they [the Americans] challenge this… It's good that they are doing something that is challenging this organisation."

The United States announced on Tuesday it was withholding more than half of the planned aid money to the UNRWA, urging the world to make up the shortfall.

The UNRWA provides emergency aid, healthcare and schooling to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as Gaza and neighbouring Arab countries.

The agency has been in operation since 1950, when millions of Palestinians fled their homes after the creation of Israel in 1948. Millions more fled when Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank.

Despite the US' close relationship with Israel, it has also been the UNRWA's biggest donor. But Washington's policy towards the region is now taking a dramatic turn with Donald Trump in the White House.

Netanyahu and Narendra Modi embraced warmly upon the
Israeli premier's arrival on Monday, appearing to overcome
any tensions over India's refusal to support US moves to
recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital [Getty]
The Israeli PM made the remarks while flying from Delhi to Gujarat, as part of his official visit to India. 

This week's visit to India is the first by an Israeli premier in 15 years, with Netanyahu accompanied by the largest-ever business delegation to travel with an Israeli leader, including technology, agriculture and defence executives.

Netanyahu and Indian leader Narendra Modi embraced warmly upon the Israeli premier's arrival on Monday, appearing to overcome any tensions over India's refusal to support US moves to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, before signing agreements on cyber-security and energy.

Read also: India must not forget its historic support for Palestine

The pair also discussed the possibility that Air India could operate flights to Israel, using Saudi airspace in order to cut the journey time, according to reports by Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

Ties between the two countries have been strengthening under Prime Minister Modi's strong-arm Hindu nationalist agenda, which has turned away from its historical record of support for the Palestinian cause.

Since Trump's controversial announcement on December 6, outlining his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and officially recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angry protests have erupted worldwide.

Numerous violent episodes have also been sparked since then, in which sixteen Palestinians and an Israeli have been killed, and many more injured.

Fourteen of the Palestinians were killed in clashes, while two were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza in response to rocket fire. 

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