JERUSALEM (JTA) — President-elect Donald Trump told an Israeli reporter that he will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump made the remarks at an event Tuesday evening in Washington, the Israeli daily Israel Hayom reported on Thursday.
Israel Hayom reporter Boaz Bismuth, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Mauritania for four years until 2008, attended the event sponsored by Trump’s close associate, chairman of the 58th Presidential Inauguration Committee Thomas J. Barrack Jr., for current diplomats serving in the United States.
Bismuth reported that during a conversation with Trump, he asked the president elect if he remembered telling him in a previous interview that he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
He reported that Trump replied: “Of course I remember what I told you about Jerusalem. Of course I didn’t forget. And you know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”
Asked about current events in Israel, Trump replied: “I can’t wait to start working with Israel. This weekend, relations between us officially begin.”
Israel Hayom is a free Hebrew-language daily newspaper owned by Republican donor and billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Separately, Sean Spicer, Trump’s spokesman, said in a briefing call with reporters that an announcement on the embassy move would be “coming soon.”
During the campaign, Trump said he would move the embassy, but his transition team has declined to offer a timeline for the action.
Trump’s choice for secretary of defense said at confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate on Thursday that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital.
“The capital of Israel that I go to, sir, is Tel Aviv, sir, because that’s where all their government people are,” James Mattis, a retired four-star general, told the senators in response to questions about policy on Israel.
David Friedman, Trump’s choice for U.S. ambassador to Israel, said in the announcement of his nomination that he hoped to work from a Jerusalem embassy.
Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995 and mandated the move to Jerusalem, but successive U.S. presidents have exercised a waiver in the law that allows them to delay the move for national security reasons. U.S. security and diplomatic officials say that moving the embassy would stir anti-American violence in the Middle East and elsewhere.