By Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner—
With the world poised for President Donald Trump’s expected statement on Wednesday that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, American officials are quietly taking major steps toward moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, a leading Israeli publication reported.
According to Israel’s Channel 2, sources have revealed that a site for the embassy has been chosen and preliminary steps toward construction are already underway.
The report cites anonymous sources saying the site chosen for the new embassy is the Diplomat Hotel in the neighborhood of Arnona. Furthermore, a well-known Israeli architect has been hired and is collaborating with Trump’s representatives as well as the municipal planning board.
There is documented evidence that the preparations are being made, according to Channel 2. They apparently include major changes to the interior of the hotel in order to satisfy the needs of an embassy, such as providing new entrances and exits, security rooms, bomb shelters, and underground facilities. Security measures will also be introduced on the exterior of the building, such as fences, guardhouses, and electronic surveillance.
An anonymous source described as a high-level official in the Jerusalem municipality was quoted as saying, “The Americans have already submitted preliminary sketches and our understanding is essentially that they plan to do an entire remodeling of the place from inside. An American architect who builds American embassies all over the world has come to check the site.”
The chairman of the local planning committee, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, stated on the record: “We were impressed that the American standards are much higher than we’re used to here. … The requirements are much more stringent regarding planning, security, and safety.” Turgeman stated, however, that the US has not revealed all of its plans to the municipality due to national security considerations.
“We never felt for a moment that the Americans forgot about the embassy,” Turgeman added, saying that US officials have been on the ground examining the site for some time.
Thus far, Trump has not publicly announced a new policy on the location of the American embassy, though he has yet to sign an annual waiver that would prevent the Congressionally-mandated move.