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  • Says U.S. will spend less than half a million dollars on move
  • New embassy, angering Palestinians, to open next month

President Donald Trump said he rejected a proposal to build a new U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem for $1 billion, and instead the U.S. will spend less than half a million dollars to open the facility next month.

“The papers were put before me to sign an application for more than $1 billion to build an embassy,” Trump said Friday at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. “I had my name half-signed and I noticed the figure and I never got to the word ‘Trump.”’

The president said he called the ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and asked about the expenditure. Friedman, Trump said, told him “I can build it for $150,000” by renovating part of an existing U.S. property in Jerusalem, and “instead of 10 years from now, we can open it up in three months.”

Trump said he authorized spending $300,000 to $400,000. “It’s going to be beautiful and it could be somewhat temporary,” he said.

“But that’s the way government works,” he said. “They were going to spend a billion dollars and we’re going to spend much less than half a million dollars.”

Trump announced late last year that the U.S. would move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital. The announcement infuriated the Palestinian Authority, which responded by breaking off U.S.-brokered talks on a potential new peace deal with Israel.

Trump said he may travel to Jerusalem to attend the opening of the new embassy.

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