Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sporting a big smile, told reporters that the US Embassy would be moving to Jerusalem "much faster than people think, within a year from today."
A day later, US President Donald Trump seemed taken off guard by Netanyahu's remark, and said there was no way the embassy could be relocated so quickly.
"By the end of the year?" Trump responded when told by reporters what Netanyahu had said. "We’re talking about different scenarios — I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no."
After Trump publicly recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital back on December 6, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quick to pour a bit of cold water on the development by noting that it would take three years, at least, to build a new embassy in Holy City.
But now, two of America's biggest and most respected newspaper – The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – are citing government officials who say the US Embassy will be officially located in Jerusalem by the end of 2019.
This will reportedly be accomplished by renovating an existing US consulate facility in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, rather than constructing a new mission.
The complex in Arnona is relatively new, but would need to be re-outfitted to accommodate the US ambassador and the various classified operations that take place at an embassy.
Doing so will save the US a lot of money, and allow US Ambassador David Friedman to begin working out of the Jerusalem facility by next year.
Whether or not the most recent reports are accurate remains to be seen. But Trump will surely weigh in once again very soon.
PHOTO: Netanyahu meeting with US Ambassador David Friedman in Jerusalem last year. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)