U.S. to open Jerusalem embassy in May for Israel's 70th anniversary

"Jerusalem [al-Quds] is Israel's capital, and as such President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [al-Quds]", Pence said to prolonged applause from Israeli lawmakers.

US President Donald Trump's announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordering that the embassy be moved broke decades of US policy.

The rapid timeline means the USA will not immediately build a new embassy in the city, which would take years of planning and require extensive security preparations.

"The time is now for all United Nations member states to follow in the footsteps of the USA and declare that they too recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel".

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A spokesman for the Gaza health ministry said 25 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli live fire during clashes along the fence with Israel in Gaza.

"Achieving a comprehensive and just peace is based on adherence to the resolutions of worldwide legality and on the foundation on which the peace process was based according to the principle of a two-state solution that would lead for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders", he said.

The embassy opening in May will coincide with Israel's 70th anniversary, the spokesperson added. The most likely plan involves opening the embassy in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood at an existing US facility that already handles consular affairs like passports and visas.

Jerusalem straddles the border between Israel and the West Bank. "There is no greater gift than that!" he said.

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"Every other president really lied, because they campaigned on it", Trump said Friday at a conservative conference outside of Washington.

"By the end of next year, we intend to open a new embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space", she added.

Trump administration officials say State Department lawyers are evaluating the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all embassy costs. "Don't do it. Don't do it, '" Mr Trump said.

Daniel Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel under President Obama, agrees that the embassy belongs in Jerusalem but that the Trump administration has failed to give the proper assurances especially to the Palestinians.

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The controversial relocation will come much faster than initially expected, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying in December that it would take years before the move was completed.

  • Jill Young