In a historic move, the United States embassy in Jerusalem was formally inaugurated at a ceremony held today, May 14th, the secular anniversary of Israel’s founding 70 years ago. The new embassy is located in the city’s Arnona neighborhood, in the facility that had heretofore served as the U.S. Consulate.
About 800 guests attended the ceremony. The U.S. was represented by a formally designated “Presidential Delegation” led by Deputy Secretary of State, John. J. Sullivan, and including U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s lead negotiator. A bicameral Congressional delegation and other U.S. dignitaries were also present for the ceremony, which was also attended by top diplomats from 33 other nations.
In a video message, U.S. President Donald Trump called this “a great day for Israel”, saying: “Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right like any other sovereign nation to designate its capital.” The President continued by stressing America’s continuing quest for peace. “The United States will always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of peace. We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors. May there be peace.”
In his remarks, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin thanked American leaders for making the move possible. “The American Congress has, for many years now, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And I want to thank the many members of the Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, for their love and support for Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanked the U.S. President, calling this “a great day for Israel” and “a great day for America.” He echoed the President’s sentiment, saying “I believe it’s also a great day for peace. You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state.”
The opening of the new embassy was greeted with bipartisan support in the U.S.
Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, issued a statement backing the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem: “In a long-overdue move, we have moved our Embassy to Jerusalem. Every nation should have the right to choose its capital,” he said. “I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif, stated :“Seventy years ago today, the United States was first to recognize Israel as an independent state. On this important anniversary, it’s fitting that the U.S. finally open an embassy in Israel’s self-determined capital. A bipartisan majority in Congress has been calling for this important action since the 1990s.”
Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also welcomed the move and stressed the need for an active peace process. “I will do everything in my power to support” the construction of a permanent embassy. He added that he looked “forward to hearing what the administration’s plan is to bring the parties together to work toward two states for two peoples.”
Last December, Trump announced his decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, making it official that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State.
[Photo: PBS NewsHour/YouTube]