The U.S. State Department has banned government employees and their families from traveling to parts of Israel in anticipation of possible violence, following President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the American Consulate General in Jerusalem said U.S. government employees and their family members are not allowed to engage in any personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank.
“With widespread calls for demonstrations beginning December 6 in Jerusalem and the West Bank, U.S. government employees and their family members are not permitted until further notice to conduct personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank, to include Bethlehem and Jericho,” the American Consulate General in Jerusalem said. “Official travel by U.S. government employees in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the West Bank is permitted only to conduct essential travel and with additional security measures.”
The American Consulate General also advised any U.S. citizens to avoid large crowds or any areas where there’s an increased police or military presence. The State Department believes there will be mass protests and possible violence in response to the U.S.’s impending decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
This announcement is expected following reports that President Donald Trump told Israeli and Arab officials on Tuesday that he will recognize Jerusalem as the new capital of Israel. He is believed to be preparing an official announcement for Wednesday, which is two days past the Monday deadline to make a decision whether to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Dana Weiss, chief political analyst at Israel’s Channel 2 News, stated that Palestinian and Arab leaders were “kept in the dark” about Trump’s notice in advance to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials on the U.S.’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital.
In response to reports on the embassy, U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Jordan have warned that such a move will hurt the peace process between Israel and Palestine. Jordanian King Abdullah II warned Trump that he should not pre-empt a “comprehensive solution that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
“The King affirmed that the decision will have serious implications that will undermine efforts to resume the peace process and will provoke Muslims and Christians alike,” said a Jordanian statement.
Despite Trump’s intent to move the embassy, U.S. officials have said that because of logistical issues, the move would not take place right away. But what is expected to take place shortly is Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
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