Hundreds of attendees attended today’s ceremony surrounding the opening of the new US Embassy Jerusalem, which included speeches by the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and a special video message from US President Donald Trump. Ambassador David Friedman opened the event by declaring, “Today we keep our promise. On this day, we extend to Israel the right we extend to any other nations: the right to designate its capital city.”
The event was foreshadowed by the recent clashes along the Gaza border, with dozens reportedly killed, and over a thousand Palestinians injured as part of the Gazan “March of Return” campaign to storm into Israel from Gaza. IDF is on high alert both on the Gaza border and in Judea and Samaria, and Israeli police are out in full force throughout east Jerusalem.
In a statement released ahead of the move, the State Department hailed the relocation of the embassy, defending it as a “necessary condition” for peace.
“Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Harry S Truman, became the first nation to recognize the State of Israel,” the statement said.
“Moving our Embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal; rather it is a necessary condition for it. We are not taking a position on final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, nor on the resolution of contested borders.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a reception last night in honor of the opening ceremony , “This is a momentous time. President Trump is making history. We are deeply grateful and our people will be eternally grateful for his bold decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the embassy there”.
Ambassador Friedman proclaimed leading about to the move, “One of the things that we thought was important in terms of the conflict was to look at the various leverage points and see how we thought we could adjust those to create a better dynamic for peace,” he said. “What the president saw was that the Palestinians essentially had a veto over the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — meaning that if you say, ‘We’re only going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital if the Palestinians say it’s okay,’ you’re empowering the leverage in a way that’s not helpful. And frankly, that card has been misplayed over many years. ”
“We’ve recognized the obvious, which is that despite the best of intentions, after 51 years since the Six Day War, 70 since the State of Israel was created, and something like 23 since – 24 since [the Oslo peace process], the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no closer to a solution than it’s ever been,” he added.