First signs go up for US Embassy in Jerusalem
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First signs go up for US Embassy in Jerusalem

Ahead of next week’s embassy move from Tel Aviv to capital, Mayor Nir Barkat tweets: ‘This is not a dream — it’s reality’

Jerusalem municipality workers hang a road sign directing to the US Embassy near the US Consulate in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jerusalem municipality workers hang a road sign directing to the US Embassy near the US Consulate in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Workmen on Monday put up street signs to the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, due to open in one week, a move hailed as historic by Israel, but loathed by Palestinians.

Municipal workers erected signposts reading “US Embassy” in Hebrew, Arabic, and English around the site, currently a US consular building, in the city’s Arnona neighborhood.

US President Donald Trump announced on December 6 the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the embassy, located until now in Tel Aviv.

The embassy is to get a festive inauguration on Monday next week, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.

Small in size, it will initially occupy part of the consular work space pending planning and construction of a purpose-built embassy, ​​a long-term project according to the US State Department.

Trump’s unilateral decision delighted the Israelis and enraged the Palestinians, who want to make the city the capital of their future state, and who say Trump’s decision ignores their demands.

The question of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is not a dream — it’s reality,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a Twitter post that included photos of him on a ladder holding one of the newly installed signs.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat hangs the first sign pointing to the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, May 7, 2018 (Jerusalem Municipality)

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people — and the world is beginning to recognize this fact,” he said, adding his thanks to Trump.

Israel considers the Trump declaration as recognition, albeit long delayed, of a historical fact.

To the Palestinians, it is indicative of what they say is the White House’s pro-Israel bias.

Israel took control of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it.

Foreign embassies are currently located in Tel Aviv and its environs, as the international community has balked at recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, until the status of the city is set via a peace deal with the Palestinians.

On December 6, Trump announced that the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem. Israel has expressed hope that other countries will follow suit, though the move was widely condemned in the international community.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has said his country’s embassy will move to Jerusalem in May as well.

Paraguay is set to become the third country to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Paraguay President Horacio Cartes will travel to Israel later this month to open the country’s new embassy in the capital.

Cartes’s trip was scheduled for May 21 or May 22, a Paraguay government spokesman told the Reuters news agency.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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