US Embassy In Jerusalem Will Open In May
Defying all odds, the new American Embassy in the Holy City of Jerusalem will open in May.
After angering most of the United Nations and earning condemnation from Islamic organizations, Trump’s deal to move the Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is going ahead. The Embassy will be open for business starting in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the small country.
A few weeks before signing the Tax Cut And Reform Bill, Donald Trump appeared with Mike Pence to announce that he would be moving the American Embassy from its current location in the small city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
While Congress had called for the movement of the Embassy to Jerusalem since at least the 1990s, the order has been kicked down the road from President to President to President.
“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
Ahead Of Schedule
When the move was first announced, it was accepted that it would take several years before the Embassy could be moved due to the time it would take to find a good, secure location and to build a new office from scratch with all the latest in security technology. In December, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it would take “years” to fully relocate.
According to the State Department, the Embassy is able to open in May by using a facility already in use by the American government located in West Jerusalem. The space will be small to start, and will have enough room for the Ambassador and a few staffers. They will be able to function as an official embassy during the time that plans are made, approved and started up for the new facility which is a “longer-term undertaking.”
“By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound [in West Jerusalem] that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space.”
Turkey Is Furious
In a statement released by the Turkish Foreign Minister, the decision to move the embassy is “very worrying.” In December, President Erdogan gave a summit in Istanbul hosting over 50 countries. The summit brought together Muslim leaders for the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and they insisted that America is attempting to damage attempts at peace. The OIC leaders have also condemned the recognition of Jerusalem.
Earlier this month, Rex Tillerson’s State Department issued a statement against the Turkish forces who are fighting US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria:
“We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration… to avoid civilian causalities.”
Israel Independence Day
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Embassy announcement will “turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into an even greater national celebration.” Israeli Independence Day will take place on May 14th.
Private Donors Might Pay?
American Jew Sheldon G. Adelson has offered to give a private donation to help fund the estimated $500 million it would cost to fully replace the current Embassy in Tel Aviv. There have been cases before where private donors have covered the cost of renovations in overseas foreign offices.
Adelson, who is worth over $40 billion, has been a supporter of Republican causes and gave Trump’s 2016 campaign $25 million. He has already funded educational initiatives in Las Vegas where he owns the Sands Casino and has made contributions to the Israeli Defense Force and to Birthright Israel which sends Jewish students overseas to visit the country.
Significance of Jerusalem in Religion
For Jews, Christians and Muslims, the city of Jerusalem is associated with figures including the prophets David, Simon and Elijah.
In the Old Testament, Jerusalem is referred to 669 times and is prominent in the book of Psalms. Jesus died on a cross just outside of the city.
For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is considered the third holiest site behind Mecca and Medina.
Sources: The New York Times, CNN, The Jerusalem Post, Wikipedia