With the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Monday, a U.S. promise is fulfilled. In December President Donald Trump pledged to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. U.S. Presidents have promised to do so for years, without following through. The move Monday solidified U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Members of the Trump administration gathered with Israeli officials at the new embassy to celebrate. Trump chimed in with a video message. In it, the president congratulated Israel and said the U.S. remained committed to peace in the volatile region.
“Our greatest hope is peace,” Trump said. “The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement.”
Trump also remained firm in the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital.
“Almost immediately after declaring statehood in 1948, Israel designated the city of Jerusalem as its capital,” he said. He noted Jerusalem is “the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.”
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital.”
WATCH: Audience at US Embassy opening in Jerusalem watches a message from President Trump pic.twitter.com/Bn8FkHWEgQ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 14, 2018
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Help Open Embassy
In an ceremony in Jerusalem, Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin unveiled the embassy seal. Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump welcomed guests.
Secretary Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump unveil a plaque during US Embassy ceremony.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 14, 2018
“What a glorious day. Remember this moment,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said to cheers. “President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin thanked Trump “for keeping your word, for your courage, for your determination.” The U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 1995. The law mandated that the U.S. move its embassy there by 1999. But previous presidents consistently waived the law, until now.
“We hope and expect that other nations will follow your path and leadership,” he added. So far, Guatemala and Paraguay have said they will move their embassies to Jerusalem.
“We will continue to safeguard Jerusalem as a city of peace,” Rivlin went on, saying the city would welcome people of all faiths and communities.
Jared Kushner, husband to Ivanka and Trump senior adviser, said “peace is within reach” during his address at the ceremony. “When there is peace in this region, we will look back upon this day and remember that the journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth.”
Hamas Instigates Violence
While U.S. and Israeli officials spoke of peace, violence continued at the Israel-Gaza border. Palestinians have long desired east Jerusalem as a capital. Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem heightened Israel-Palestian tensions. Palestinians have been protesting at the border of Israel and Gaza for weeks. But Monday marked the worst violence between Israel and Palestinians in four years.
Hamas, the terrorist organization controlling the Gaza strip, claimed a border breach was possible on Monday. But the Israeli military stated it will do whatever it takes to prevent that. A spokesman cited concerns for the safety of civilians should violent protesters break through. As of Monday morning, the AP reported that over 40 Palestinian protesters had been shot and killed, with hundreds more wounded.