Posted: 12:19 PT
We’re days late on this but the United States opened the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14. The event sparked protests at the Gaza border which resulted in the deaths of over 50 Palestinians and hundreds of wounded protesters.
With the Embassy officially moved to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has not been designated as a consulate general but as a “Branch Office”. The State Department did update its 2 FAM 440 on Changing Post Status on May 18, four days late and it does not enlightened us on what happens to the Tel Aviv post, the consular districts, the role of the chief of mission to USCG Jerusalem or for that matter, what happens to place of birth names on passports as 7 FAM 1300 Appendix D has not been updated. Note that previous to this move, USCG Jerusalem’s consular districts include the West Bank, Gaza, and the municipality of Jerusalem while Embassy Tel Aviv’s consular district includes all other territory in Israel.
We understand that the Consul General in Jerusalem will continue to live in the chief of mission residence (CMR) on the Agron Road consulate site. It is also our understanding that USCGJerusalem — a separate post with its own chief of mission that reports directly to the bureau and was never a constituent post of then Embassy Tel Aviv — “will go on as usual” even after the ambassador and mission to the State of Israel move to Jerusalem. So the USG will have two posts in Jerusalem, each with a different mission? Are there going to be one or two separate consular sections? What’s bidding going to be like? We’re having a moment with FAM confusion, help would be appreciated from folks in the know.
Last December, @POTUS acknowledged Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. He directed @StateDept to move our embassy to Jerusalem as recognition of that reality. I'm incredibly proud that today, on Israel's 70th anniversary of independence, #USEmbassyJerusalem is open.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 14, 2018
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 14, 2018
Son-in-law Jared Kushner speaks at US Embassy opening in Jerusalem: "The US stands with Israel because we both believe in freedom… in human rights… that democracy is worth defending." So far, 41 Palestinians protesters have been killed at the border. pic.twitter.com/whbk8bnBEF
— Paula Chertok🗽 (@PaulaChertok) May 14, 2018
US @statedeptspox says State had no role in picking the controversial pastor Robert Jeffress for opening ceremony for US Embassy in Jerusalem. Says Ambo Friedman picked him. Said of pastors views "we would certainly not agree with his remarks about some religious groups."
— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) May 15, 2018
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 14, 2018
BREAKING: Israeli soldiers shot and killed at least 41 Palestinians at the Gaza border pic.twitter.com/VNyUGshmSe
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 14, 2018
At least 41 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in clashes on the Gaza border, as US opens embassy in Jerusalem
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 14, 2018
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 14, 2018
Opinion: Under Trump, the U.S. has abandoned the last shred of balance on Israel https://t.co/dqKdBxC6OP
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 14, 2018
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) May 7, 2018
— USEmbassyJerusalem (@usembassyjlm) May 7, 2018
First road sign for the new US embassy in Jerusalem.
It’s happening, folks. pic.twitter.com/VagUCK8dZH
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 7, 2018
New US Embassy building in Jerusalem plan unveiled. The new US Embassy will be inaugurated in Jerusalem next week, then construction works to be completed on coming years by American, Israeli firms. 🇺🇸 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/vabYO3Yjtd
— Michael Dickson (@michaeldickson) May 7, 2018
Posted: 12:57 am ET
There was a curious story over the weekend about the new U.S. Embassy Jerusalem where POTUS claimed to have saved millions and millions of dollars for the construction of the new embassy:
Trump has told this story before. In early March, during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump made the same claim about being presented with a $1 billion bill that he rejected. At that point, Trump said the actual cost would be $250,000, not $400,000.
Second, Trump’s depiction of what’s happening appears to glamorize the reality. To speed the process of transitioning from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the United States will be upgrading an existing facility in Jerusalem. The New York Times reported in February that the first phase — the phase that would be complete in the three-month window mentioned by Trump on Friday — would be to “carve out some office space for Ambassador David M. Friedman and a small staff.” Then, by the end of 2019, the existing compound will be expanded to increase the available office space.
Unless his staffers just gave POTUS a piece of paper purporting to be a bill for a $1 billion U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the description above is not how embassies are funded and constructed in the real world. First, the State Department’s Bureau of Buildings Operations is tasked with overseeing the construction of the agency’s overseas building program:
The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) directs the worldwide overseas building program for the Department of State and the U.S. Government community serving abroad under the authority of the chiefs of mission. In concert with other State Department bureaus, foreign affairs agencies, and Congress, OBO sets worldwide priorities for the design, construction, acquisition, maintenance, use, and sale of real properties and the use of sales proceeds.
Second, the design and construction of these projects are announced for open competition. It is a multi-phase process and typically spans multiple years depending on scope and size of the project.
Third, granted that this is a White House priority, Congress is still tasked with appropriating funds for the construction of this embassy. We have not seen the amount for NEC Jerusalem project although the State Department’s budget justification did say:
The construction of a U.S. Embassy facility in Jerusalem will be among the Department’s highest priority for capital security investments in FY 2018 and FY 2019.
State/OBO has 15 overseas construction contracts in FY2017 at a total cost of about $3B; none includes the Jerusalem project. However, there was an A/E design award for a USCG Jerusalem project for $2,899,963 awarded in FY2016 to Krueck+Sexton Architects Chicago with project description listed as “BFM, proj. dvlp. services.”
Krueck+Sexton Architects also have this image up of US Consulate General Jerusalem. And one of its staffers in an online interview said that his “main focus has been on a master plan for a new U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israel, which includes a 200,000 sqft. office building and the development of several other government buildings on a 16-acre site.”
Of particular note — on April 16, USCG Jerusalem announced a “Meet and Greet” for contractors interested in “Phase 2 Arnona Project.” The project provides improvements to the Arnona property where the consulate general is located. A source familiar with the project confirmed to us that this is the interim build-out of the Arnona consular annex, and is intended to accommodate a small ambassador staff and the MSG Detachment. Below is an excerpt from USCG Jerusalem’s announcement (PDF):
There is an upcoming Building Construction project at the U.S. Consulate General Arnona Jerusalem. The project will be competitively let (bid) by U.S. general contractors, followed by project award to a single, winning U.S. contractor in June 2018. The U.S. contractor may subcontract renovation work to local, Israeli construction companies. The project award to a U.S. contractor is expected to exceed $20 million. The Design-Build project scope includes Building Addition, Compound Upgrades, and Improvements to Utilities and Parking.
If the interim US Embassy in Jerusalem is expected to cost at least $20M, who can really expect the permanent embassy to cost between $150K-$400K? It’s not like they’re just building a guard shack.
For context, just the replacement and repair of Forced Entry & Ballistic Resistant (FE/BR) products (doors/windows) for US Embassy Dhaka cost $1.1M back in 2011; an HVAC Upgrade in Bratislava cost $480,000.00 in 2011; and a temporary embassy “fit-out and installation” in Tripoli, Libya the same year cost $998,000.00. Also, the design/build of the consular waiting area alone in Port of Spain was $856,000. Heck, a Surabaya warehouse cost the USG $3,922,458. 00. More items here. So if somebody tells you he can build an embassy for $400K, best run away unless the work scope is for a tiny house embassy for one with no guards.
The interim Jerusalem embassy facility is not to be confused with the New Embassy Compound Jerusalem, which is a separate project, and is “yet to be defined” according to our source. The expectation is for the embassy design award to come out next year. Which means the construction of the new permanent embassy may not start until late 2019 or early 2020, with the actual completion of the NEC project 2-3 years later barring a calamity.
Curious about Trump's story about saving $999,600,000 on a new embassy in Jerusalem? Allow me. https://t.co/3ad7zcSN92
— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 27, 2018
Trump says he nearly signed on the dotted line for a $1 billion US embassy in Jerusalem. He started signing it, but noticed the price tag and stopped part-way, and said it's too much (according to his account of how things work over there)
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) April 27, 2018
Trump says he had his name “half signed” on an order to build a new embassy in Jerusalem but stopped when he saw it would cost $1 billion. Instead, he says he could do it for $150,000.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) April 27, 2018
Posted: 12:27 pm PT
สุขสันต์วันปีใหม่ Happy New Year from U.S. Embassy Bangkok!
ปีใหม่ปีนี้ ชาวสถานทูตมาแบ่งปันไอเดียของขวัญปีใหม่กัน https://t.co/7gDj0fjoKZ
— U.S. Embassy Bangkok (@USEmbassyBKK) December 29, 2017
Toute la mission diplomatique américaine au Sénégal vous souhaite une très heureuse année 2018! https://t.co/N1TbOvGGzE
— U.S. Embassy Senegal (@usembassydakar) December 30, 2017
— US Embassy Bogota (@USEmbassyBogota) December 30, 2017
Muchos momentos emocionantes e inolvidables en el 2017 entre los Estados Unidos y Uruguay. Estamos listos para trabajar juntos en el 2018! #Celebramos150 #Democracia #Educación #Cooperación #Comercio #Emprendedurismo #DerechosHumanos #HappyNewYear pic.twitter.com/hCVMptPeUh
— Amb Kelly Keiderling (@USAmbUruguay) December 30, 2017
As 2017 draws to a close, Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir and the entire team at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur want to thank our Malaysian friends and partners for a wonderful year. We’re looking forward to continuing our work together in 2018 and beyond. 2017年落幕之时，雷荷花大使及美国大使馆团队衷心感谢所有大马朋友及伙伴在这一年所给予的支持。期盼在2018年及将来继续与你们携手合作。 Tahun 2017 akan melaburkan tirainya. Duta Besar Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir dan seluruh pasukan di Kedutaan A.S. di Kuala Lumpur ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada rakan dan rakan kongsi Malaysia kami untuk tahun yang hebat ini. Kami tidak sabar untuk meneruskan kerja bersama pada 2018 dan seterusnya.
Thank you to everyone around the UK that has made 2017 such a memorable year! Looking forward to the New Year ahead and working together to strengthen the U.S.-UK special relationship. pic.twitter.com/K1BtEkC1B9
— Ambassador Johnson (@USAmbUK) December 28, 2017
Looking back on 2017 and my time in Japan since becoming Ambassador – off to a tremendous start, with a great Embassy team, and the strongest Bilateral relationship in the world.🇺🇸🇯🇵 #rewind2017 pic.twitter.com/2NlekjpwJA
— ビル・ハガティ米国大使 (@USAmbJapan) December 29, 2017
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) December 30, 2017
— Amb. Greg Delawie (@USAmbKosovo) December 30, 2017
— USAID (@USAID) December 27, 2017
Posted: 3:04 am ET
— POLITICO (@politico) December 5, 2017
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 3, 2017
— USCGJerusalem (@USCGJerusalem) December 5, 2017
Here is the statement of the OIC, the collection of 57 Arab and Muslim states, which met today in SAUDI ARABIA to slam the idea of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. https://t.co/UvlAOEa38f
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) December 4, 2017
Egypt, Jordan warn Tillerson over Trump's Jerusalem recognition plan https://t.co/2nCajRta6f
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) December 4, 2017
Spoke with #US Secretary of State Tillerson on dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across #Arab #Muslim worlds, fuel tension & jeopardize peace efforts.
— Ayman Safadi (@AymanHsafadi) December 3, 2017
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) December 4, 2017
Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman:
"The kingdom's policy – has been – and remains in support of the Palestinian people, and this has been communicated to the U.S. administration." https://t.co/O4RY5T9y0H
— Mohammed K. Alyahya (@7yhy) December 4, 2017
— League ofArab States (@arableague_gs) December 4, 2017
No E Jerusalem capital, limited territory & partial sovereignty on W Bank, most Israeli settlers stay, no right of return: Alarmed & astonished Palestinian & Arab officials say Saudis floated these as possible items in a Trump Mideast plan. https://t.co/yfnGQCUkWV
— Anne Barnard (@ABarnardNYT) December 4, 2017
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 4, 2017
Posted: 1:26 am ET
On September 11, the State Department had to distance itself from a comment made by its top representative in Israel (see @StateDept: Ambassador Friedman’s comment “does not represent a shift in U.S. policy”. On September 28, State Department spox Heather Nauert, once more from the podium, said that it’s ambassador’s two percent comment “should not be read as a change in U.S. policy.” One reporter asked “if the perception that the ambassador to Israel has his thumb on the scale in the view of this conflict creating problems for the U.S.?” The spox had an interesting response that includes North Korea, and oh, maps.
Via the Daily Press Briefing:
MS NAUERT: So I’ve also heard about this report, and when you mention that figure of two percent, I don’t know where that came from. That came from some report. I have no idea which report that came from. 14 9/28/2017
QUESTION: It was in the interview. It came from his —
QUESTION: It came from his own mouth.
QUESTION: It was from David Friedman’s mouth.
MS NAUERT: Oh. Okay, okay. I thought he was citing a report or something. Okay, okay. So I’m aware of what he said. His comments – and I want to be crystal clear about this – should not be read as a way to prejudge the outcome of any negotiations that the U.S. would have with the Israelis and the Palestinians. It should also not indicate a shift in U.S. policy.
QUESTION: Well, do they reflect – oh. So it does – so his comments by the U.S. ambassador to Israel do not reflect U.S. policy?
MS NAUERT: I just want to say it should not be read as a change in U.S. policy.
QUESTION: Did he go rogue?
QUESTION: This is —
QUESTION: So is this —
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. That’s —
QUESTION: This is at least the second time that from this podium you’ve had to sort of clean up Ambassador Friedman’s remarks when he had upped the alleged occupation. Is this becoming an issue? I mean, even if it’s not a change of position, is the perception that the ambassador to Israel has his thumb on the scale in the view of this conflict creating problems for the U.S.?
MS NAUERT: I guess what I would say to that is we have some very effective leaders and representatives for the U.S. Government, including Jason Greenblatt, Mr. Kushner, who are spending an awful lot of time in the region trying to get both sides together to have talks about a lasting existence side by side. The President has made that one of his top priorities. And when we talk about top priorities here, we talk about the nuclear threat of North Korea, but also – the nuclear and ballistic missile threat of North Korea, but we also talk about this. And I think it indicates just how important this is to the President that he has put those two in charge of negotiating that.
In terms of the ambassador, I can’t comment any more for you on that other than to say our policy here has not changed.
QUESTION: Well, it sounds —
QUESTION: But when you say that – Heather, when you say — 15 9/28/2017
QUESTION: It sounds to me like you’re saying – that you’re telling – you’re telling the Palestinians and the Israelis don’t bother listening to the ambassador, listen to Greenblatt and Kushner.
MS NAUERT: I have not had the chance to speak to the ambassador, so I will hesitate at commenting too much —
QUESTION: I mean, the ambassador spoke —
MS NAUERT: Hold on – too much on what he said. I was not there. I have not heard it. I have not heard the context in which that conversation was had. But I just want to be clear that our policy has not changed.
QUESTION: Right. But the – but I mean, all that is fair enough, but the problem arises because he is the Senate-confirmed ambassador. Mr. – neither Greenblatt nor Kushner are. They’re just informal-type envoys. And ambassadors to every country are supposed to speak for and with the authority of the President of the United States. Do you not see that this is causing confusion?
And then as a purely factual matter, how much of – what percent of the West Bank does the United – does the administration believe is occupied?
MS NAUERT: I don’t know that we have a map of that or that we have —
QUESTION: You’ve got a lot of maps on that.
MS NAUERT: Do we have a lot of maps?
QUESTION: Oh, yeah.
MS NAUERT: Do we?
MS NAUERT: Okay. Well, see, you all pre-date me here. I’ll go pull out some —
QUESTION: Heather, do you —
MS NAUERT: — the dusty shelves.
QUESTION: You have many, many, many, many maps.
MS NAUERT: Okay, okay. Said, go right ahead.
QUESTION: I want to follow up on something else that he said.
MS NAUERT: Yes. 16 9/28/2017
QUESTION: He said that the two-state solution has lost its meaning. Is that your position? I mean, this is – it’s been the case of past U.S. presidents – I mean U.S. ambassadors in Israel to speak for the State Department and to report directly to the Secretary of State. Has he cleared that with the Secretary of State?
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Ambassador Friedman’s current comments —
MS NAUERT: Elise, I’m not going to have anything more for you on the ambassador.
QUESTION: Okay, but will you – I understand. But you just said that Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner are working on this issue.
MS NAUERT: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And then you – or before that, you said that Ambassador Friedman’s comments don’t reflect a change in policy. So aren’t you a bit concerned that the ambassador’s comments are detracting or going to harm the efforts by the President’s appointed envoys on this issue?
MS NAUERT: I think I would go back to the meetings that the President held where the Secretary was last week at the UN, in meeting with Mr. Abbas and meeting with Mr. Netanyahu. And I think they know – I know they know – just how strongly we feel about trying to bring peace, peace to that region.
QUESTION: Well, they – the President told him —
MS NAUERT: And —
QUESTION: — that last week and that yes, they came across – they came out of those meetings last week. And now this week —
MS NAUERT: And we both came out of those meetings very, very hopeful.
QUESTION: I understand that.
MS NAUERT: And they both had said something along the lines of “We have” – something along the lines of “We’ve never felt like we’re in a better position to reach this goal.” So I’m not going to tarnish that in any kind of way. I think we’re still going forward with that goal.
QUESTION: But that was last week. And this week, the ambassador is coming out and saying something completely different. Has he been — 17 9/28/2017
MS NAUERT: Well, let me just say, to my knowledge, we have not received any phone calls about this just yet. Okay?
Said, go ahead. Go right ahead.
QUESTION: Let me just follow up very quickly. I’m sorry. I just want to follow up, because today, the prime minister of Israel told the official news channel that he discussed with Mr. Greenblatt and with Mr. Friedman and, in fact, with Mr. Dermer, the ambassador, the Israeli ambassador here, that they – they want to close – he raised with them closing the PLO embassy here in Washington. You have anything on that? Do you know anything about that? Because I told the Palestinian ambassador. He says we have not heard anything; this is something that the Israelis are just saying they’re doing.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: Do you know anything about that?
MS NAUERT: You know what? I’m not familiar with that report. If I have anything for you on it, I will certainly get it to you, but I can refer you back to the government. Okay?
Posted: 4:25 am ET
QUESTION: And my other question pertaining to Ambassador David Friedman, he gave us an interview to the Jerusalem Post last week, last Friday.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: And he termed the Palestinian territories as allegedly occupied. Has there been any departure from the standard U.S. position that these territories are occupied?
MS NAUERT: Our position on that hasn’t changed. The comment does not represent a shift in U.S. policy.
QUESTION: Okay. But he is the ambassador of the United States of America.
MS NAUERT: His comment does not represent a shift in U.S. policy. Okay?
Posted: 1:33 am ET
Posted: 3:06 am ET
On July 20, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a solicitation for Jerusalem Hotel Room Services.
The Embassy intends to conduct a pre-proposal conference, and all prospective offerors are invited to attend. The pre-proposal conference will take place at 10:00 AM local Israel time, on August 1, 2017, at the US Embassy Annex Facility located at 11 Galgalai Haplada St., Entrance B, 3rd floor, Herzelia Pituach, Israel.
The requirement is for the providing of lodging rooms for Official US Government visits to the City of Jerusalem. The estimated number of hotel rooms for one year is 1,202 rooms and 2,704 room nights. The anticipated performance is for a base period of twelve months and two one -year periods at the option of the Government.
The scope of services requires the contractor to provide a minimum of 40 (forty) and a maximum of 6,500 (six thousand five hudred) single hotel rooms in Jerusalem. According to FedBiz, the contract type will be indefinite quantity.
Posted: 3:50 am ET