December 10, 2018

U.S. Jerusalem Embassy to Open in May

The new United States embassy in Jerusalem will open its doors in May, when Israel celebrates its 70th year of independence.

The State Department announced the timing of the move to Congress on Feb. 23, and told the Times of Israel, “The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona [in south Jerusalem], on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem. At least initially, it will consist of the ambassador and a small team.”

The new embassy is scheduled to open on May 14, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. The timing is not coincidental.

“This decision will turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into an even bigger celebration,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Thank you President Trump for your leadership and friendship.”

In response to the announcement, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Ekrat called it a “flagrant violation of international law and agreements” and “provocative to the feelings of all Arabs and Muslims.” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Kanou claimed that the move will be “a trigger for an explosion of the entire region in the face of Israel.”

President Trump first announced the move in December, when he declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The move has been met condemnation worldwide and “days of rage” protests, but the Trump administration has held firm on the move.

“The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the U.N. on Feb. 20. “You don’t have to like that decision. You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: that decision will not change.”