PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL) (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Netanyahu Trump

Israeli leaders welcomed the announcement that the US will move its embassy to Jerusalem in May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary, while Arab figures expressed anger.

By: United with Israel Staff

Israel’s leadership warmly welcomed the Trump administration’s announcement that the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this coming May, coinciding with Israel’s 70th Independence Day, while leaders in the Arab world expressed anger and threatened repercussions.

“This is a great moment for the State of Israel. President Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebrations even happier,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, thanking President Donald Trump for his “leadership” and “friendship.”

Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat thanked Trump for “fulfilling his promise” to bring the US Embassy home to Jerusalem, the eternal “united capital of the Jewish people.”
“This gift is a particularly meaningful way to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. This is a recognition of Jerusalem not just in words, but in deeds,” he stated.

He added that Israel looks forward to “hosting you this year in the Jerusalem Embassy.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Danny Danon welcomed the US announcement as “a testament to the unbreakable alliance and true friendship between the US and Israel.”

“President Trump’s bold decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem this May, in honor of our seventieth Independence Day, is a testament to the unbreakable alliance and true friendship between the US and Israel,” said Danon.

He added that “the time is now for all UN member-states to follow in the footsteps of the US and declare that they too recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel.”

So far, Guatemala is the only country to do so, while there are reports of other countries planning such a move.

A Provocative Aggression Against the Palestinian People

The Arab world viewed the US announcement as an act of aggression and a “crime” against the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday condemned “in the strongest terms” the American announcement to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Israel’s 70th Independence Day, saying they considered it “a provocative aggression against the Palestinian people.”

The ministry stated that the announcement is “offensive to the feelings of Arabs and Muslims, in addition to being a blatant violation of international law and United Nations resolutions.” The ministry also referred to Israel’s independence day as a time “when Palestinians mark 70 years of their dispersal and uprooting from their homeland.”

The ministry said the decision “is a direct aggression against the Palestinian people and their just and legitimate national rights, while at the same time rewarding the occupation for its violations and crimes, especially as it coincides with the anniversary of the Nakba [catastrophe in Arabic – the Arab name for Israel’s independence]  that afflicted the Palestinian people and is still ongoing, and encouraging it to continue to destroy any chance for peace based on a two-state solution.”

It said that by doing this, the US administration “has therefore lost any credibility to talk about efforts to bring peace and resume negotiations.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry urged the international community to “oppose this step by the Americans and to restate their position that East Jerusalem is part and parcel of the occupied Palestinian territories and the capital of the future state of Palestine.”

Hamas Threatens Regional Explosion

Hamas Spokesman Abdul-Latif al-Qanou stated that Hamas considers moving the US embassy to Jerusalem “a new aggression on [Palestinian] rights and … holy sites. This is a clear provocation of the feelings of the Islamic and Arab nations.”

“Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is a violation of international law and goes against the international conventions,” Hamas claimed.

“This would never legalize the Zionist occupation of our land or change the reality and identity of Jerusalem,” he added.

Hamas threatened to “bravely confront the plan to relocate the US embassy. Hamas warns that this will be the trigger which would detonate the whole area in the face of the Israeli occupation.”

Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit stated that the US’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of the “Palestinian exodus, the Nakba,” is “likely going to undermine the last chance of peace and coexistence between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

The US’ decision “represents a new and dangerous episode in the series of provocations and wrong [US] decisions that have been going on since last December,” Mahmoud Afifi, spokesman for Gheit, said in a press statement.

“The US decision to move its embassy [in Israel to Jerusalem] on the Nakba anniversary reveals the full bias [of the US] towards Israel… This annuls the capacity required for the US to sponsor a peaceful process leading to a just and lasting solution to the conflict,” Afifi added.

Afifi further claimed that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem should have no legal impact on the status of the city as “an occupied territory,” as the vast majority of countries rejeced the US decision.

“The Arab countries are determined to address all the negative consequences of this resolution and to ensure that no other country makes a similar move in the future so the US move would always be isolated,” Afifi said.

Afifi revealed that a delegation of five foreign ministers of Arab countries will be heading to Brussels next Sunday to meet Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, along with other foreign ministers of the European Union (EU).

He said the “question of Palestine” will be at the top of the meeting’s agenda.

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