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The U.S. may open its Jerusalem embassy much sooner than expected — here's when it could happen

The U.S. could open an embassy annex in West Jerusalem as early as this April, the Associated Press reported. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump last year officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital city and announced the United States would move its embassy in the country from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.

The move was expected to take years, but a report suggests a U.S. diplomatic mission in Jerusalem will be opened much sooner.

What's going to happen?

The State Department initially believed it would take around three years to move the entire embassy and its staff to Jerusalem. The moving process is extremely complex and involves "building a new facility that satisfies the significant security requirements," according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, a plan has been submitted to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that allows the Trump administration to announce they have officially opened a Jerusalem embassy ahead of schedule. That date could come as early as April, the AP reported.

The plan includes designating an existing U.S. consulate in West Jerusalem as the "interim embassy" until the new one is built and all operations are moved to it.

According to the AP, the "most likely scenario" is U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his top aides moving their offices to the West Jerusalem consulate by this spring. They would also keep their offices in Tel Aviv, but the move would allow Trump "to say that technically the embassy had moved," the AP reported.

However, the move doesn't mean U.S. operations would also move. According to the AP, most U.S. operations in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv until the new Jerusalem embassy can be built.

If the existing building isn't designated this spring, the New York Times reported it would happen sometime next year.

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