US will open Jerusalem embassy in May, on Israel’s 70th birthday

Ahead of schedule, the new US Embassy in Jerusalem will open in May 2018 in celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence.

By World Israel News
AP contributed to this report.

The Trump administration has confirmed that the US embassy will be moved to Jerusalem this coming May, coinciding with Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

“President Trump’s decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem on the coming Independence Day follows his historic declaration in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued by the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Friday.

“This decision will turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into an even bigger celebration. Thank you President Trump for your leadership and friendship,” the Israeli leader stated.

Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, tweeted: “May 14th 1948, President Truman recognizes Israel. May 14th 2018, @POTUS Trump will move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. 70 years apart.Two historic decisions. One united capital.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon welcomed the announcement. “President Trump’s bold decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem this May, in honor of our 70th Independence Day, is a testament to the unbreakable alliance and true friendship between the US and Israel,” he stated.  “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.”

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The May opening marks a significant acceleration. During his historic address to the Knesset in January, Vice President Mike Pence said the embassy would open by the end of 2019. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who signed off on the security plan for the new embassy on Thursday, had said it would take years.

During his six-day visit to India last month, Netanyahu told reporters that the US will move its embassy to Jerusalem “much sooner than you think,” possibly within the year. Trump denied any such plan, telling Reuters, “By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios – I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no.“

Initially, the embassy will consist of just a few offices inside an existing U.S. facility in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, where the consular offices are currently located.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned. Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948.