By Herb Keinon, JPost—
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that the United States will likely move the embassy “much sooner than you think,” likely within the year. Netanyahu’s comments came as he was flying from New Delhi to the next leg of his India trip, to the state of Gujarat.
Netanyahu said that the embassy move was one of three major decisions the US has announced in recent months, along with a 120-day clock for the Iranian nuclear deal and the cut in funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency. UNWRA was created in 1949 as an international response to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. It is active in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.
The US informed the agency on Tuesday it was going to withhold $65 million in future assets while announcing it would provide $60 million in aid.
Netanyahu praised the US for its decision to cut aid to UNWRA, saying that, for the first time, a challenge was being issues to the organization which perpetuates the refugee problem and the anti-Zionist narrative.
“This is the first time that anyone is challenging UNWRA,” the prime minister said. “For 70 years it has perpetuated the idea of Palestinian refugees and the narrative of somehow putting an end to Zionism.”
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a press briefing on Tuesday the decision was “not aimed at punishing” anyone.
Netanyahu thirdly praised the ultimatum issued by US President Donald Trump on the Iranian nuclear deal, offering 120 days to fix or nix the accord, which he called a “strategically significant step.”
On January 12, Trump signed a waiver keeping the US nuclear-related sanctions off of Iran and in the international deal governing its nuclear program. However, a senior administration official warned that Trump would not sign any more such waivers going forward — starting a 120-day clock for negotiations over what the White House describes as a supplemental accord with Europe that will impose new terms on Iran over its future nuclear work.
“This is very important,” Netanyahu said, “otherwise Iran’s train will be going to just one place.”
Netanyahu is on the fourth day of his trip to India, having spent yesterday focused on the economic relationship between the two countries.
Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report