Middle East

US embassy to move to Jerusalem within a year, claims Netanyahu

US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands after delivering a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017 (AFP)

The United States embassy will move to Jerusalem within the year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.

Netanyahu claimed that decision was one of a series of unprecedented policy moves the Trump administration will soon take.

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Delhi to Gujarat, as part of an official visit to India, Netanyahu said: "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. Canceling the agreement is what he said he plans to do.

"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."

Netanyahu’s comments come a month after Trump’s historic announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ending decades of an American policy of neutrality, and drawing condemnation and sparking protests from the Palestinians who claim Eastern Jerusalem as their future capital.

The US was heavily censured by the international community when the UN General Assembly voted resoundingly to reject Trump’s recognition in December.

The Israeli prime minister’s timeline for the embassy move differs from that offered last month by US secretary of state Rex Tillerson , who said the move could take at least three years.

It took the US 10 years to build and relocate to its new embassy in London.

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