Ten days before the official opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli officials still do not know if US President Donald Trump will attend.
Trump surprised Jerusalem late last month when he said he was considering attending the embassy’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. During a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the White House on April 27, Trump said he “may go.”
Channel 10 news reported Friday night that a week later, neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Foreign Ministry knew whether the president was coming.
The report said authorities were taking the possibility into account in their preparations for the May 14 event.
The ceremony will be attended by 1,000 dignitaries, 250 of them American. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to lead the US delegation, which will include 40 members of Congress and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump.
Republican senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham are also reportedly planning to attend, as is Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. The group is also expected to include Jewish leaders and heads of pro-Israel Christian organizations.
Trump said during the press conference with Merkel that the embassy “is going to be beautiful.
“The embassy in Jerusalem has been promised for many, many years by presidents,” Trump said. “They all made campaign promises and they never had the courage to carry it out. I carried it out.”
Trump vowed to move the US embassy to the holy city last December, when he also formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In January, Trump announced that the process would be expedited and a new facility would open in May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. To achieve this, Washington is repurposing a facility that currently houses the consular operations of the Consulate General in Jerusalem. The building, which is in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona, will initially accommodate the US ambassador and a small team, the White House said in January.
While the move was welcomed by Israel, the Palestinians have seen it as a provocation, and have said it effectively negates the possibility of the Trump administration serving as an honest broker in peace talks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials have since refused to meet with anyone on Trump’s team.
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.