USA will open embassy in Jerusalem earlier than expected

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TrainiStock
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24 February, 2018

WASHINGTON-The State Department is set to begin operating its embassy in Jerusalem in May and is entertaining an unusual offer from Sheldon Adelson, Republican Party donor and casino magnate, to help pay for a new facility after an initial move from Tel Aviv, U.S. officials said. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declared the entire city as its capital, a move not recognized by the global community.

The campaign against moving the embassy was "incredible", Trump added, but he says the campaign in favor of moving the embassy was also incredible.

Nakba ("catastrophe" in Arabic) is the word used by Palestinians to describe the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Officials said the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open in May 2018 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the announcement in a statement, saying it would, "turn Israel's 70th Independence Day into an even greater national celebration".

"What a story if this is pulled off with donations - I have never seen that happen before", said one State Department official familiar with the process of taking in US donations said.

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The embassy would be in an annex of an existing USA facility in the neighborhood of Arnona. According to a senior administration official, the temporary location will house Ambassador David Friedman and a small staff, while other operations will continue from the existing embassy building in Tel-Aviv.

Trump's announcement a year ago that Washington would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem infuriated Palestinians and their Arab allies.

Daniel Shapiro, a former USA ambassador to Israel under President Obama, agrees that the embassy belongs in Jerusalem but that the Trump administration has failed to give the proper assurances especially to the Palestinians.

He said the result would be "the destruction of the two-state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims".

"East Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine, an integral part of the territory occupied by Israel since 1967", he said.


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