David Friedman, the newly minted U.S. ambassador to Israel who has long argued for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and was slated to begin living and working in Jerusalem from the start of his tenure, is expected to begin his post this week working out of the USA embassy in Tel Aviv, according to sources familiar with his plans.
President Trump is still weighing a campaign pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and is trying to gauge its effect on the peace process, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
Earlier this month, marking Israel's Independence Day, Vice President Mike Pence said that the Trump administration was continuing to give "serious consideration" to moving the embassy to Jerusalem, The Times of Israel reported.
"The report on Fox News is a lie" and "Netanyahu supports moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem", his office said in a statement.
Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would not only keep an unequivocal campaign promise but would also be in line with US law, which three successive administrations have chosen not to observe over the past 18 years, by passing six-monthly national security waivers.
Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel considers the entire city to be its undivided capital.
But Trump has since backed away from the embassy move, saying it was still being looked at, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced political backlash at home over the issue.More news: Donald Trump: I shared info with Russian Federation for 'humanitarian reasons'
The US president will start his first ever foreign tour by visiting the Saudi capital on Friday and then will leave for Israel on Monday.
Israel wants the White House to explain why a U.S. diplomat preparing President Donald Trump's visit to Jerusalem said Judaism's holy Western Wall in its old city is part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an Israeli official said on Monday.
Friedman, who owns an apartment in Jerusalem, is expected to live in the U.S. ambassador's official residence in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herziliya.
Trump would be breaking with strong tradition if he does not attend the shrine and lay a wreath for Holocaust victims but neither the White House, the State Department or the Israeli Embassy in London were unable to confirm with IBTimes UK that he will be paying his respects.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other hand, said in a statement that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would not harm the peace process, adding that he made his views in this regard clear during his previous meeting with the Trump administration.
Jewish-American Friedman, a strong supporter of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, entered the residence with a marching band playing.
The new United States ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, departed from diplomatic protocol by visiting the Western Wall on Monday.
Friedman arrived Monday and immediately visited the Western Wall, praying there and kissing the sacred site. Trump had promised during his campaign to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.