‘A great day for Israel,’ Trump declares as embassy moves to Jerusalem

US Jerusalem Embassy

President Donald Trump declared Monday a “great day” for Israel as his top aides celebrated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, led the US delegation at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem with a single message: Only Trump had the courage to act on what America has wanted for a long time.

“While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American Embassy once they were in office, this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,” Kushner said.

In a video address that aired at the ceremony’s opening, Trump said the move to Jerusalem had been a “long time coming.” He said he remained committed to “facilitating a lasting peace agreement” and that he was “extending a hand of friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors.”

Trump also alluded to the US’ status as the first nation 70 years ago to recognize Israel’s very existence.

“Almost immediately after declaring statehood in 1948, Israel designated the city of Jerusalem as its capital, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times, so important. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government,” he said.

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“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to declare its own capital, yet for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious, the plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.

“The United States remains committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement,” Trump added, making reference to the efforts underway by administration officials to hammer out an accord with the Palestinians, who walked away from negotiations not long after Trump took office and have yet to return.

The president reiterated America’s commitment to “maintain the status quo” at Jerusalem’s holy sites, referring to the Temple Mount, where Jews are currently forbidden from praying by the Islamic trust that oversees the site.

Earlier in the morning on Twitter, Trump urged people to watch the ceremony on television, declaring the day “A great day for Israel!” As the ceremony began, he wrote: “Big day for Israel. Congratulations!”

Likewise, Trump’s aides echoed the president’s message, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin telling Fox News, “The president is making difficult decisions because they are what he believes are the right long-term decisions and not just kicking the can down the road.”

“It’s not coincidental” that the embassy move coincided with Trump’s announcement that he planned to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, Mnuchin addedw.

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Also on hand were Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“Of all the things President Trump could have done, doing this [embassy move] is the strongest signal he could send to the Israeli people,” South Carolina’s Graham said.