By Lahav Harkov, JPost

The Jerusalem Municipality’s Building and Planning committee approved plans for a new US embassy building in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion called it a “historic and exciting moment,” and that he thinks it will inspire other countries to move to the capital.“After two years, we’re thrilled the local planning committee finally approved it,” Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said. “We’ve been waiting for a very, very long time and we’re happy it finally passed.”

The approved plans include expanding the current embassy site in Arnona, as well as the construction of a new embassy on Derech Hebron. They will need additional approval from a district council, but it’s expected to pass easily. The approval went through a week before US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Though Biden has said he would not move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, a municipality source expressed reassurance at the decision being made before the change of presidents. US President Donald Trump announced the embassy would be moved in 2017, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman moved his primary office to the existing US consulate in Arnona the following year.

A branch office remained in operation at the embassy’s previous Tel Aviv site. The Trump administration also sold the Herzliya Pituah beachfront property that served as the ambassador’s residence, reportedly to philanthropist and Trump donor Sheldon Adelson, who passed away this week.

While the new compound is being built, the next ambassador could reside at the US property on Agron Street in Jerusalem, though it is much smaller than the Herzliya house and does not have the grounds for large outdoor events. The US also retains a suite at the King David Hotel.