Al-Monitor ("the pulse of the Middle East") had a hot news scoop yesterday in which it exposed the real price tag for Trump’s $250,000 Jerusalem embassy, which is only 100 times more than President Trump said it was.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly boasted that he would save US taxpayers a bundle by negotiating a $250,000 price tag for a new embassy in Jerusalem. Turns out the final cost, just for a temporary facility, is almost 100 times more.
Wow, pretty embarrassing. Al-Monitor's exposé was torn flaming from the pages of U.S. government contract award documents on the internet, so you know it's the real deal.
But not really. With just a bit more internet research Al-Monitor might have come across one of the many State Department or White House press releases from half a year ago that described the three-phased approach they are taking to that new Embassy Jerusalem. The first phase, which was a small conversion of space within an existing building, cost about $250K, the same as Trump boasted. The second phase, which is the one Al-Monitor discovered on-line, has "a potential award amount of $21,182,581." The key word there is "potential." Then there will be a third phase way down the road in which the USG will spend serious money building a whole new embassy office building.
The State Spokesperson spelled it out back in February:
In May, the United States plans to open a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. The Embassy will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem. Those consular operations, including American citizen and visa services, will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the Embassy. Consulate General Jerusalem will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate, from its historic Agron Road location. Initially, the interim Embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the Ambassador and a small staff. By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space. In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent Embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking. We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening.
The contract award documents that Al-Monitor's news hounds sniffed out are for that second phase office annex which will provide the Ambassador with expanded space.
Hey, Al-Monitor, try to keep up with the official press releases.