‘Historic’ US Jerusalem Embassy Move to Align with Israel’s 70th Birthday in May

U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right). Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon (GPO)

The United States will make history official this May when they formally move their embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, which will be done to line up with the 70th anniversary of the modern State of Israel on May 14. Just over two months after US President Donald Trump announced the plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s true capital, the US State Department announced last Friday that the US would use an interim facility for their embassy and move the Ambassador and “a small staff” this year rather than wait until a new embassy is built.

The same day as the State Department press release, President Trump said he faced pressure not to make the embassy decision he announced last December, but he believed he should. “I was hit by more countries and more pressure and more people calling, begging me, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it,’” said Trump in a speech published to the White House website. “I said, ‘We have to do it. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. We have to do it.’ And I did it.”

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the escalated timetable for the move. “This is a great moment for the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu on Saturday in comments released by his office. “President Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebration even happier. Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership, and for your friendship.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu commented further on the decision in the Israeli cabinet meeting.

“This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and this is an historic moment for the State of Israel,” the Israeli leader said in comments released by his office. “We will celebrate it together, all citizens of Israel. This will have significant and historic long-range implications.”

Later on Sunday, he expanded on that impact. “This is a decision that rests on recognition of the reality and of the depth of the right, and the depth of the roots, of the Jewish People in its eternal capital. I am also certain that other countries will follow the US and move their embassies to Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

The Jerusalem embassy will initially be housed in a site used as an alternate consulate location according to the State Department press release. Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in the statement that by the end of 2019 they planned to expand the interim space and that “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.”

Said Nauert, “We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was “fairly confident” they would be ready for the embassy move by the May goal. In response to questions from the media on Friday—about the timing—including getting ready the security needed for the facility—Tillerson was quoted by a State Department release as saying, “We’ll be fine.”

The US faced backlash when the announcement of the pending move was made last year from a number of countries and even a vote by the United Nations General Assembly seeking to refute the decision. However, the number of nations who backed that vote was less than expected and Trump said he received plenty of support for the move as well.

Trump said in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, “The campaign against it was so incredible. But you know what? The campaign for it was also incredible, and we did the right thing.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 25, 2018)



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