Netanyahu estimates US embassy move within a year
Backing Trump's decisions on Jerusalem, the Iran nuclear deal and cutting funds to the Palestinians, the Israeli premier expresses confidence in the US president, says American embassy 'will be moved much faster' than people think, 'certainly within a year.'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu estimated on Wednesday that the US embassy in Israel will be moved to Jerusalem within a year.
"My assessment is that the embassy will be moved much faster than you think, certainly within a year," he told reporters during his diplomatic trip to India.
Netanyahu, who lauded US President Donald Trump for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, has backed many of Trump's other ambitions in the Middle East, such as his stance against the Iran nuclear deal and US plan to cut funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
During the press conference, Netanyahu addressed these two pressing issues, reiterating his support of Trump's decision.
"(Trump) decided on a timeframe for the necessary change in relation to Iran's nuclear program, and the nuclear agreement," Netanyahu said, adding it is clear to all that the president will stick to it.
"Amendment to the agreement or cancellation of the agreement. These are very important things, because otherwise the Iranian train is going to one place," he stressed.
Addressing the US's recent decision to cut funding to UNRWA by half, the Israeli leader claimed that the agency has "perpetuated Palestinian refugeehood and the narrative of the abolition of Zionism for the past 70 years," saying this was the "first time we stood up and challenged" their view, though he added that in every step taken, "there is always a certain amount of risk."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday he was unaware of any cut in aid to the agency, but he was "very concerned" about the possibility because it "is an important factor of stability."
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said in a statement that the reduced US contribution "threatens one of the most successful and innovative human development endeavors in the Middle East."
The United States on Tuesday said it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give a UN agency that serves the Palestinians, two weeks after President Donald Trump questioned the value of such funding.
In announcing that it would provide $60 million to the UNRWA while withholding a further $65 million for now, the US State Department said the aid group needed to make unspecified reforms.
...peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Earlier this month, Trump said he would waive nuclear sanctions against Iran for the last time to give Washington and its European allies a chance to fix the "terrible flaws" of the 2015 nuclear deal.
A senior administration official said Trump wants the deal strengthened with a follow-on agreement in 120 days or the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the international pact.
In December, Trump announced that the US officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy there, breaking with longtime US policy and potentially threatening regional stability.