Four EU envoys to attend Israeli event feting US embassy move
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Four EU envoys to attend Israeli event feting US embassy move

Ambassadors from Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary among 40 foreign diplomats expected at Foreign Ministry reception Sunday

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

A poster praising US President Donald Trump covers an outside section of the "Diplomat Hotel", adjacent to the US consulate in Jerusalem which will host the new US embassy, on May 11, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)
A poster praising US President Donald Trump covers an outside section of the "Diplomat Hotel", adjacent to the US consulate in Jerusalem which will host the new US embassy, on May 11, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Breaking with European consensus, the ambassadors of four EU countries are set to attend a reception Sunday at the Foreign Ministry in honor of the official inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem this week.

The Foreign Ministry invited 86 foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel to the event, a day before the official move. About 40 of them announced their participation, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Saturday, including Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary.

Most European countries have slammed US President Donald Trump’s move as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until the status of Jerusalem is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.

The EU recently drafted a resolution that would have condemned Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv, but the measure was blocked by Prague, Bucharest and Budapest, according to Israel’s Channel 10 news.

On Saturday evening, the union’s delegation to Israel did not deny the report, stating that the “EU and its member states will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem… including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved.”

“The status of Jerusalem is a final status issue. The aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem must be fulfilled, and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” EU Ambassador to the United Nations João Vale de Almeida told The Security Council last month.

Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren praised the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary for blocking the EU’s planned condemnations of the US move, saying on his Twitter account that the EU should be “ashamed” of itself.

On Monday, the new US Embassy will be official inaugurated in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will preside over the dedication ceremony. US Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan, Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Advisor Ivanka Trump, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt will represent the US at the event.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, adjoining a possible site for the US Embassy (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and other top Israeli officials are also scheduled to attend.

“Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Harry S Truman, became the first nation to recognize the State of Israel,” the US State Department said in a statement released Saturday.

“Moving our Embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal; rather it is a necessary condition for it. We are not taking a position on final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, nor on the resolution of contested borders.”

Citing Trump’s December 6 speech, the statement said that “the historic opening of our embassy recognizes the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the seat of its government.”

The US Consulate General on Jerusalem’s Agron Street will continue to operate as an “independent mission with an unchanged mandate responsible for U.S. relations with the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority,” the statement went on.

“The United States continues to support the status quo with regard to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. The Administration is firmly committed to pursuing a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians that promises a brighter future for both.

Some 800 guests are expected to attend Monday’s Embassy inauguration. “These include religious and business leaders, journalists, academics, and government representatives from the United States. We have also invited several Israeli government representatives and political leaders to attend,” a US Embassy official told The Times of Israel last week.

“Given that the focus of the event is on US-Israeli relations, we did not extend an invitation to the foreign diplomatic corps,” the official added.

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