After more than two decades of eluding the U.S. congress legislated ‘Jerusalem Embassy Act’ of 1995, with three separate American Presidents systematically signing waivers to postpone the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – citing security concerns; President Donald Trump’s decision to follow-through on his elections pledge has materialized today, with a festive inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. During a first event at Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, marking the historic move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the opportunity to once again voice Israel’s gratitude – declaring Trump’s decision as affirming a historic truth.
“President Trump is making history. We are deeply grateful and our people will be eternally grateful for his bold decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the embassy there.” / President Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem affirms a great and simple truth: Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past three thousand years. It’s been the capital of our state for the past 70 years. It will remain our capital for all time,” PM Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader further called on the international community to follow in the footsteps of the United States. Netanyahu claimed that an international recognition of Jerusalem would bring peace closer, as it will establish a foundation of truth, in which Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital forever.
“I call on all countries to join the US in moving their embassies to Jerusalem. Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it’s the right thing to do. And move your embassies to Jerusalem—listen to this: Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it advances peace, and that’s because you can’t base peace on a foundation of lies. You base peace on the foundations of truth, and the truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia and the capital of our state from its inception, the truth is that under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, Trump administration officials still believe in their ability to promote the peace process despite Palestinian anger over the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked in an interview on Fox News whether the peace process was dead, to which he replied with a firm negative. The American top diplomat stressed “We are working hard on it and we hope we can achieve a successful outcome there as well.” US National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a different interview that the opening of the US embassy in the city in which the Palestinians also want to establish their capital would actually promote the peace process. He said that recognizing reality always enhances the chance for peace. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also believed that the mood among the Palestinians would change after they understand that the United States is continuing to extend its hand in peace.
Nevertheless, the chief adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Washington’s optimism – emphasizing that the relocation of the U.S. embassy has “ended the role of the United States” as the ultimate peace mediator.
“What Mr. Trump has done is not a question of whether we like his ‘deal of the century’ or not, it’s not a question of whether give and take, if you give us a little bit more here we will allow you to take a little bit more there, No. It ended from our point of view the role of the United States as the broker, the owner of the peace process, which the United States have really done since 1991. And what we have really been pushed into is to try to build a new format for a peace process,” Chief Adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Nabil Sha’ath said.
Meanwhile, Israeli defense officials have voiced concern about an escalation on the country’s southern frontier with the Gaza Strip. Officials warned of exceptionally violent riots along the border fence of the Palestinian enclave in response to the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem today, protests that will reach an all-time-high tomorrow on Nakba Day, the day the Palestinians commemorate Israel’s Declaration of Independence as a day of catastrophe. According to assessments, approximately 100,000 Palestinians will participate in the tomorrow’s protests. The IDF blames Hamas for exploiting the demonstrations in order to carry out acts of terror under cover of the masses, to damage the fence infrastructure, and to carry out attacks inside Israeli territory. An IDF statement on the matter read: “Hamas has been dragging the public in the Gaza Strip into a violent event that is not in its best interests.”