Netanyahu: Moving US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem Will 'Advance' Peace

"The president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we can not advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine", Tillerson added.

After a Fox News reporter said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Trump against the embassy move, the Israeli Prime Minister's office called those claims false and pointed to readouts of Netanyahu's White House visit February 17 that said Netanyahu supported the move. "It's part of the West Bank", Israeli TV reported today.

Trump has also spoken out, as previous American presidents have, against continued Israeli settlements that are colonising the West Bank.

"Israel's position has been stated many times to the American administration and to the world", Netanyahu said in a statement, which his office said was in response to Tillerson's remarks.

"We welcome this new development and we are optimistic about the upcoming visit of the United States president to Palestine, where he is expected to visit Bethlehem and meet with President Abbas".

Palestinians argue that moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict and undermine America's status as an effective mediator.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all foreign countries to base their embassies there.

However, Israel's Channel 2 reports that while planning the visit, a Trump aide questioned Israel's control over the holy site, located in disputed East Jerusalem.

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Washington has offered a $5-million reward for information leading to Hapilon's capture, but he has proved elusive. He is a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group and was wounded by a military airstrike in January.


Israel demanded an explanation from the White House Monday after a USA official reportedly questioned the country's claim to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

Israel angrily demanded an explanation from the White House, casting a cloud over the highly anticipated visit by the new president, which is being greeted with a mixture of excitement and nervousness by Israeli officials.

The US, like most of the worldwide community, considers Jerusalem disputed ahead of final-status negotiations.

Adelson, a staunch supporter of Israel, is reportedly not a happy camper. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the worldwide community.

The new US Ambassador, David Friedman, just arrived in Israel and his first visit was to the Western Wall where he said he "prayed for the president".

The former bankruptcy lawyer has expressed scepticism over the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of U.S. peace efforts.

Over the weekend, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to publicly renege on President Trump's campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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