Israel to waive construction permits for US Embassy in Jerusalem


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s National Council for Planning and Construction will waive the usual rezoning approval and construction permits for the work in turning the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem into the American embassy.

The council on Tuesday said it would authorize the waiver in order to allow the work to be completed before the planned May 14 move of the embassy from Tel Aviv. The move is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel’s founding.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump said he may be present for the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem.

The new embassy initially will be housed in southern Jerusalem, in the Arnona neighborhood, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of the Consulate General of Jerusalem.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reportedly will sign the official zoning and permit waiver for the building in the coming days, according to The Times of Israel.

“As we promised, we won’t let unnecessary bureaucracy delay the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital,” he said in a statement. Kahlon called the leniency “a strategic diplomatic move” for the country.

The construction work reported to be necessary on the building includes an escape road and a 10-foot-high security fence around the site, for which the area is not zoned.

The waiver will be valid for three years.

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and some staff will begin working out of the consular section beginning in May, JTA previously reported. In the second phase, by the end of 2019, an annex on site will be constructed for a more permanent working space for the ambassador, staff and a classified processing site. The third phase, the site selection and construction of a new embassy, will take up to nine years.

Trump has heralded his Dec. 6, 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the move of the embassy as a highlight of his administration.

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