The U.S. Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, based on information from three State Department officials. High-level Jewish-American donors have voiced their willingness to donate to the building of the new embassy.
The news comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on a security plan for the move this week. The U.S. ambassador to Israel and a small team of embassy personnel will make the initial move. They will take over an existing U.S. building, now used as a U.S. consular facility for issuing visas and other diplomatic matters, until there is a location and a plan for a permanent U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, according to the officials.
The embassy in Tel Aviv will become a branch of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, and there are currently no plans to shutter the Tel Aviv building, although discussions about that are ongoing. The embassy.
The U.S. ambassador to Israel has been fielding many of the offers from Jewish donors who have voiced a willingness to give funds for the new building. The Associated Press reported Mr. Trump had considered accepting donations fromto help fund the project. One source tells CBS News interior decorators have offered to decorate the embassy. There are no formal talks between the State Department and private U.S. donors at this time, CBS News White House and senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan reports. The White House is asking the State Department about the legality of accepting private donations for the building. The State Department in theory has the legal authority to accept private donations for an embassy, though the donors would have to be vetted by the State Department. The U.S. Diplomacy Center in Washington, for instance, is backed by private donations.
One State Department official familiar with the process told CBS News private donations would make it more difficult to reverse Mr. Trump's decision to move the embassy in the future.
"What a story if this is pulled off with donations — I have never seen that happen before," said one State Department official familiar with the process of taking in U.S. donations said.