by: Ilse Strauss, BFP News Correspondent
On May 14, 2018, Israel and those who love her will celebrate Independence Day, the Jewish state’s 70th birthday as a modern nation. The day will be filled with exuberant joy, celebration and merriment—and for good reason. The opportunity to mark seven decades since God fulfilled a millennia-old promise of the Jewish state’s miraculous rebirth (Isa. 66:8) does, after all, not come along every day.
On February 23, 2018, the US gave Israel another reason to celebrate. Just over two months after US president Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel, the US State Department announced that the White House will make good on its promise to relocate the American embassy from the shores of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv to the hills of Judah in the City of Gold. Moreover, the move will coincide with Israel’s 70th birthday in May.
“We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening,” State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said.
Trump himself ratified the news during an address at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The president admitted to tremendous pressure to negate on his December 6, 2017, pledge to relocate the embassy. “I was hit by more countries and more pressure and more people calling, begging me, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it…” The campaign against it was so incredible.”
Conviction prompted Trump to disregard international bullying tactics. “It’s the right thing to do,” he told his audience. “We have to do it. And I did it.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move. “This is a great moment for the State of Israel,” he said. “President Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebration even happier. Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership, and for your friendship.” The prime minister reiterated his praise for Trump’s decision the next day during the weekly opening of the Knesset (Israeli cabinet).
“This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and a historic moment for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Jewish state’s lawmakers. “It has long-term implications and great historic significance.”
“This is a decision that rests on recognition of the reality and of the depth of the right, and the depth of the roots, of the Jewish People in its eternal capital. I am also certain that other countries will follow the US and move their embassies to Jerusalem.”
Two days after Trump announced the move in December last year, US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, explained that such a relocation could take years. “It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” he held.” Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.”
Vice president, Mike Pence, was somewhat more optimistic when he told the Knesset last month that the Jerusalem embassy would open its doors before the end of 2019. February’s announcement thus comes as a significant shortening of the timeline by any account.
At first, the embassy will function from the US’s current consular premises under the direction of the Ambassador and a “small staff,” while the search for a more permanent site for a “longer-term undertaking” is already underway.
State Department officials confirmed to Israeli media that the ribbon cutting will take place in mid-May, with a number of sources claiming that the ceremony will take place on May 14 in honor of the date.
Photo Credit: Ashernet
Source: (Bridges for Peace, originally published as news article on 26 February, 2018)
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