On 70th anniversary, Trump says US has ‘no better friends anywhere’ than Israel
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On 70th anniversary, Trump says US has ‘no better friends anywhere’ than Israel

Netanyahu thanks US president for tweeting well-wishes to all Israelis, saying he's 'looking forward' to opening new embassy in Jerusalem

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US President Donald Trump, right, speak at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter's departure from Israel on May 23, 2017. (Koby Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US President Donald Trump, right, speak at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter's departure from Israel on May 23, 2017. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

WASHINGTON — The United States has “no better friends anywhere” than Israel, US President Donald Trump said Wednesday while congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israelis on the country’s 70th anniversary.

“Best wishes to Prime Minister and all of the people of Israel on the 70th Anniversary of your Great Independence,” Trump tweeted. “We have no better friends anywhere. Looking forward to moving our Embassy to Jerusalem next month!”

Netanyahu, who retweeted Trump’s message shortly after its publication, responded in kind several hours later.

“Thank you, President Trump! We too have no better friend than America. We are greatly looking forward to your moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital,” he tweeted.

On Wednesday evening, Israel began to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding on May 14, 1948. Israel marks Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, on the 5th of Iyar — which this year falls on Thursday, April 19 — and festivities began on Wednesday evening.

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, he announced that the process would be expedited and a new facility would open in May, to coincide with Israel’s birthday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for mid-May. Trump has, as yet, not committed to attending the inauguration. The Times of Israel has learned that his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Kushner’s wife, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, are considering traveling to Israel to attend.

The Palestinians have seen the move 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.

On Monday, the PLO’s US envoy said the decision to “take Jerusalem off the table,” invoking the president’s frequent phrase, was more like “removing the table all together.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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