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Trump transition team reportedly looking at possible U.S. embassy locations in Jerusalem

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The Dome of Rock in Jerusalem's Old City (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team is reportedly scouting out specific locations in Jerusalem to be the new U.S. embassy in Israel.

The embassy is currently in Tel-Aviv, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and numerous pro-Israel groups have long advocated for moving the diplomatic facility to what they say is its rightful location.

Christians and Jews alike consider the city to be sacred land — a land God has specifically set aside for his people to live in. Currently, the western half of Jerusalem is occupied largely by Jews while the eastern part of the city is home to mostly Arabs who want their own independent Palestinian state.

More recently, however, a number of Jews have begun moving into the eastern region of Jerusalem, hoping to someday make the entire city Israel's capital. Israel currently claims Jerusalem as its capital but no other country, including the U.S., recognizes it as such.

Throughout his campaign, Trump promised to be a friend to Israel, which makes Monday's report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency all the more significant.

"It is something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish Americans have expressed their preference for,” Trump's former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday.

“It is a great move. It is an easy move to do based on how much he talked about that in the debates and in the sound bytes," Conway added.

Netanyahu on Tuesday welcomed the news, calling it "great" that Trump is reportedly looking at moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

If the U.S. does move its embassy to Jerusalem, it would be the only country to have its main diplomatic headquarters there. The U.S. currently has a diplomatic consulate in Jerusalem.

"I think moving the embassy to Jerusalem is an important step toward putting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Israeli-American Eliezer Shapiro told National Public Radio last month. "And that's part of the peace. If we want any reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, we also have to have our rights recognized here in this country. Not just their rights."

But former Jordanian Foreign Minister Kamel Abu Jaber warned that moving the embassy could have implications far exceeding backlash from just Palestinians. NPR spoke with one Arab storeowner in East Jerusalem who said the move could also be seen as a provocation to Muslims.

"The man is a businessman and a realist. I don't think he wants to see any more flames in the Middle East," Abu Jaber said, adding that moving the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem would be "just like be poking a stick into a beehive."

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