United States to open Jerusalem embassy in May, marking Israel's 70th anniversary

by Noah Mcgee February 24, 2018, 4:58
United States to open Jerusalem embassy in May, marking Israel's 70th anniversary

The US expects to open its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem in May, officials have said, bringing forward Donald Trump's contentious plan forward by at least a year.

The Palestinian Authority on Friday responded in anger to news that the USA administration plans to relocate the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, and said "unilateral" moves will not contribute to achieving peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

Trump announced a year ago he'd move the USA diplomatic compound from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem over strong objections from Palestinian officials.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their historic capital.

Palestinians reacted to the news with anger.

Trump's move, Khaldi said in an interview, "gave the Israelis a pretext to say that Jerusalem is unified under Israeli rule", contravenes global law and will impede peace efforts.

Israelis and Palestinians alike interpreted Trump's move as Washington taking Israel's side in the conflict - a view reinforced by the White House's recent decision to withhold financing for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

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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.

Last month, Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli Parliament that the new embassy would open "before the end of next year". He said that ultimately, his administration "did the right thing".

The status of Jerusalem - home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions - has been one of the thorniest issues in long-running Mideast peace efforts.

Goldstein said State Department lawyers were looking at the legality of such a gift but Adelson has not made a formal request and no formal talks have taken place, suggesting nothing is imminent.

Adelson is a major contributor to the Republican Party, a loyal supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owner of a popular tabloid in Israel.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation immediately decried Washington's embassy announcement as a "provocation to all Arabs".

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