In first, US embassy celebrates Independence Day in Jerusalem

After Netanyahu’s request, annual July 4 party taking place at conference center in capital; bipartisan congressional delegation attending

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

For the first time, the US embassy in Israel was holding its annual Independence Day celebration in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening.

Although US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017, last year’s event took place in Airport City, outside Tel Aviv.

The fact that this year’s celebration was taking place in Jerusalem might have to do with an explicit request made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the 2018 celebration.

In a video the US embassy posted on Facebook this week, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his wife, Tammy, can be seen eating popcorn while watching a clip from the embassy’s last Independence Day party.

In the clip, Netanyahu can be seen thanking Trump for moving the embassy to Jerusalem earlier that year. “David, I have one message for you. I have one request: Next year in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu says in the clip, addressing the US envoy.

“This is a fine and beautiful hall, immaculately done. Next year in Jerusalem, right next to the American embassy. There can’t be a more glorious gathering with greater friends,” he says.

Watching the clip from his armchair, Friedman tells his wife that Netanyahu was right, and the couple agrees to hold this year’s party at Jerusalem’s International Conference Center.

As he does every year, the prime minister is scheduled to address Tuesday’s event.

4th of July Party Teaser

Even if you’re not going to be attending our first ever Independence Day Party in Jerusalem, you can still join us live on U.S. Embassy Jerusalem Facebook page.Looking forward to being with you, virtually or in person.גם אם לא תשתתפו במסיבת ה-4 ביולי הראשונה בירושלים, עדיין תוכלו לצפות בה בשידור חי בעמוד הפייסבוק שלנו.מצפים לחגוג איתכם, דרך המסך או פנים מול פנים.

Posted by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem on Monday, June 24, 2019

On Monday, Netanyahu met a bipartisan US congressional delegation led by US Rep. Ted Deutch (Democrat of Florida).

“Prime Minister Netanyahu commended the bipartisan presence expected at the American Independence Day ceremony, which will be held in Jerusalem for the first time,” according to readout of the meeting provided by the Prime Minster’s Office.

Last year, Russia became the first country to hold its annual national day celebration in the city, marking Moscow’s recognition of “Western Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital the previous year.

At the event, which was attended by Netanyahu, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov stressed that his government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital was contingent on the eastern part of the city becoming the seat of a future State of Palestine after a peace deal is reached.

This year, the embassy held its Russia Day celebration in Tel Aviv.

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