Middle East

Jerusalem mayor hopes US moves embassy, despite warning from Palestinians

June 2, 2016: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a special Cabinet meeting to mark Jerusalem Day in Ein Lavan spring located in the outskirts of Jerusalem.

June 2, 2016: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a special Cabinet meeting to mark Jerusalem Day in Ein Lavan spring located in the outskirts of Jerusalem.  (Reuters)

The mayor of Jerusalem says that under the incoming Trump administration, he hopes the U.S. embassy in Israel will soon be on the move – but Palestinians are already crying foul.

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Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he believed the embassy would be relocated to his city from Tel Aviv “sooner rather than later,” The New York Times reported Sunday.

“It should have been done years ago,” Barkat told the newspaper. “My impression is, because I know some of the people and friends around Donald Trump, I believe that it will happen, sooner rather than later.”

Israel views Jerusalem as its capital, but the Palestinians also view the eastern part of the city – captured by Israel during the 1967 war – as a capital for a future state.

“Taking sides with Israel on such a sensitive and highly emotional issue will further escalate tension in an area that is already volatile,” Rashid Areikat, the chief Palestine Liberation Organization representative to the United States, told the Times.

Past U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have made similar vows to move the embassy but backtracked amid concerns over the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he thought the U.S. and Israel would have a productive working relationship confronting Iran over its controversial nuclear program, among other issues. Speaking about President-elect Donald Trump, Netanyahu told CBS News' "60 Minutes," "I think his attitude, his support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people. There's no question about that."