Palestinians urge foreign dignitaries to boycott Jerusalem US embassy opening

As Mayor Barkat personally puts up streets signs for the new mission, Saeb Erekat warns expected guests against endorsing ‘international anarchy’

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

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

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Monday called on foreign dignitaries in Israel and around the world to stay away from next week’s opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, so as not to endorse what he called Washington’s “flagrant violations of international law.”

Some 800 mostly American and Israeli visitors are expected at the May 14 inauguration of the new embassy, though few officials from other countries have been invited to the event.

“As Washington pursues a policy of encouragement of international anarchy and disregard for organizations and international law, we call upon all diplomatic corps, civil society organizations, and religious authorities to boycott the inauguration ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem, lest they lend legitimacy to an illegal decision and to continued Israeli policies of occupation, colonization, and annexation,” Erekat said.

US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocated the embassy there “is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Erekat’s statement went on.

“Those who attend the ceremony will thus be sending an ominous message, a message that they encourage flagrant violations of international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, speaks to journalists during a press conference after meeting with diplomats and foreign dignitaries, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 28, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Also on Monday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat personally put up street signs saying “US Embassy” near the mission’s site in the capital’s Arnona neighborhood.

“This is not a dream — it’s reality,” he said, according to a statement released by his office. “I thank President Trump for making this historic moment come to fruition. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people — and the world is beginning to recognize this fact.”

The Palestinians have adamantly rejected Trump’s policy on Jerusalem and have effectively avoided any contact with US officials since December 6.

A worker installs decorations of Israeli and US flags in front of the US Consulate in Jerusalem where US officials will install the new US Embassy, on May 7, 2018. The embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is expected to occur on May 14. ( AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

The list of US officials planning to attend the May 14 inauguration has not been finalized. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to head the 300-strong delegation, alongside Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and dozens of congresspeople, governors, US businessmen and other dignitaries who have been involved in the US-Israel relations.

Trump has indicated that he may spontaneously decide to fly to Israel for the event, though Israeli officials are unaware of concrete travel plans.

According to US sources, the festive opening is geared mostly toward an American audience.

Ambassador David Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are set to deliver remarks, as are other officials. A video on the 70-year-old friendship between the the US and Israel will be displayed. The highlight of the event will be the unveiling of the new embassy’s seal.

On Sunday, May 13, the Foreign Ministry will host a large event celebrating the moves to Jerusalem of the American and Guatemalan embassies, which will be attended by US officials and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales.

The Foreign Ministry invited all foreign ambassadors posted in Israel, though it is unclear how many, if any, will attend the event. So far, none have RSVP’d, according to the ministry.

Most Popular
read more: