Netanyahu: U.S. Embassy Move ‘A Great Moment’ for Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
embassy israel
The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Motzoei Shabbos expressed Israel’s gratitude for its weekend announcement that the United States would officially move its embassy to Yerushalayim in mid-May – just in time for Israel’s 70th Independence Day. “This is a great moment for Israel,” Netanyahu said. “President Trump’s decision to move the embassy on Israel’s Independence Day will make our celebration of that day all the greater. Thank you President Trump, thank you for your leadership, thank you for your steady friendship.”

The State Department on Friday announced that the move would take place in May, with the date expected to be May 14th. The embassy will be based in the current U.S. consulate in Yerushalayim’s Arnona neighborhood. A report on Hadashot News Motzoei Shabbos said that Netanyahu plans to invite Trump to the official opening of the embassy in May.

The move will take place in several stages, according to media reports. At the first stage, the office of U.S. Ambassador Daniel Friedman and members of his staff will move to the consulate building, while most embassy workers will remain in Tel Aviv. Later, the United States will build a new embassy in an as yet unspecified site in the city. Weekend reports said that billionaire Sheldon Adelson has offered to pay for the building, and that the State Department was considering taking him up on his offer.

The U.S. announcement raised the ire of the Palestinians. “This is an unacceptable step. Any unilateral move will not give legitimacy to anyone and will be an obstacle to any effort to create peace in the region,” top PA official Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted by Reuters as saying. According to French news agency AFP, the top PA negotiator said that “the American administration’s decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and choose the Palestinian people’s Nakba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law.” Hamas also slammed the announcement, calling it “a declaration of war” on the Palestinians.