US to open Jerusalem embassy in May for Israel’s 70th anniversary

The United States said Friday it will relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalemin May, bringing forward the contested move to coincide with the Jewish state’s 70th birthday — and enraging Palestinians, who called it a “blatant provocation.” Palestinians object to recognition of the disputed city as Israel’s capital and say the embassy move could destroy a two-state solution to the decades-old Middle East conflict. Palestinians also object to the date chosen for the embassy move — they call May 14, on which Israel declared independence in 1948, Naqba, their “day of catastrophe.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement and thanked US President Donald Trump for his “leadership” and his “friendship.” The embassy move is expected to complicate efforts to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians — and jeopardize the traditional, if disputed, US role as an “honest broker” in efforts to resolve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. “In May, the United States plans to open a new US embassy in Jerusalem. The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in a statement. Until now, the US embassy has been located in Tel Aviv with a separate consulate general located in Jerusalem that represents US interests in the Palestinian territories. The new embassy will be initially located in a US consular building in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood while Washington searches for a permanent location, “the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking,” Nauert said. The interim embassy… [Read full story]

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