Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office was quick to deny Monday evening a report by Fox News Foreign Correspondent Conor Powell that the prime minister has asked US President Donald Trump to hold off on moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.
"Everyone I've spoken to in DC that has been briefed on Jerusalem embassy move says Netanyahu told Trump not to move embassy at this time," Powell wrote on his Twitter account.
The Prime Minister's Office, however, was quick to issue a denial, saying the report was "false."
The PMO presented notes from Netanyahu and Trump's meeting in February, which were written by then-acting national security adviser Yaakov Nagel, to show the prime minister's support of moving the embassy to the capital.
"The PM was asked about the embassy and explained (that moving it) would not lead to bloodshed in the region, as some were trying to intimidate (President Trump) into believing," Nagel stated in his notes.
The PMO also presented notes from Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer's meeting with Michael T. Flynn, at the time Trump's designated national security advisor.
Ambassador Dermer, the notes said, "explained why moving the embassy would help advance peace and not the opposite. This would send the message that we are in Jerusalem to stay. Moving the embassy would force the other side to contend with the lie they’ve constructed – that Israel has no connection to Jerusalem – and will cause them to understand that Israel will be here forever with Jerusalem as its capital."
Netanyahu himself insisted earlier on Monday that his "consistent and unequivocal position is that the US Embassy should move to Jerusalem, as should other embassies."
The prime minister was responding to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has been urging Netanyahu to press the matter during Trump's upcoming visit to Israel next week.
Netanyahu also asserted that "Not only is moving the embassy not going to hurt the peace process, quite the contrary. It will advance it by righting a historical wrong and shatter the Palestinian illusion that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel."
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that President Trump was assessing whether moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would help or hurt prospects for clinching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Since taking office, Trump has backed away from his campaign pledge to move the embassy in a gesture to Israel, instead saying he's still studying the issue. But Tillerson linked Trump's deliberations directly to his aspirations for brokering Mideast peace.
"The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact the peace process," Tillerson said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. He said Trump’s decision would be informed by feedback from all sides, including "whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction."
In the beginning of June, Trump is expected to sign an order postponing the embassy's move, as his predecessors had done.
Jordan's King Abdullah had warned Trump that moving the embassy could set the Middle East aflame.
The new American ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who arrived in Israel on Monday evening, has in the past declared that he would live in Jerusalem and work from the US Consulate in the capital. But in another sign the White House is proceeding cautiously on the matter, Friedman will instead live in Herzliya Pituach, as his predecessors did, and work from the embassy in Tel Aviv.
Trump is preparing to depart Friday on his first foreign trip. After stopping in Saudi Arabia, Trump will visit both Israel and the Palestinian territories, in a nod to his nascent bid to strike the Israeli-Palestinian deal that has eluded his predecessors.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.