The US has said it wants to build the new Al Jazeera US office at a cost of $2bn, which would be the first new office to open since 2007, in a move that could be seen as a bid to expand its presence in the Middle East and attract more business.
The $2 billion price tag has been criticised by some Arab and Muslim groups, who accuse the US of favouring Israel, which controls much of the West Bank, as well as the construction of the tunnel that will eventually lead to an Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A senior State Department official said the US has already spent $1.5bn on building a new facility in Jerusalem and will soon spend another $1bn on the construction, including $200m to build an underground car park and $400m to upgrade the existing facility.
The official said it is still unclear when the new facility will open, but that the US is working on a new plan.
“There are still many steps ahead,” the official said.
“We are working with the Israeli government to finalise the site and design of the facility.”
It will be built in a manner that allows us to be more effective and more flexible with how we operate, so we can more effectively serve our clients.
“Al Jazeera said it would have no comment.”
Our decision to build this facility is entirely at the discretion of the government of Israel,” Al Jazeera’s English channel said in a statement.”
The Al Jazeera office is a cornerstone of the Israeli state, and it is the most important of its many offices that have been closed to the public since the collapse of the Iron Dome anti-missile system in 2007.
“While we will continue to cooperate fully with the government, we do not wish to comment on the current project.”US President Donald Trump has expressed interest in opening the new US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel’s capital, as he seeks to build more diplomatic ties with the Middle Eastern nation.