Steven Mnuchin set to lead 250 strong US delegation at Jerusalem embassy opening

Group reportedly to include Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham, Jewish leaders and heads of pro-Israel Christian organizations

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin holds a press conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, DC on April 21, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin holds a press conference during the IMF/World Bank spring meeting in Washington, DC on April 21, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is to lead a delegation of 250 people from the United States, including some 40 politicians, to the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem next month, Channel 10 news reported Sunday.

Mnuchin will be accompanied by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as 40 senators and representatives, the report said.

The Times of Israel first reported last week that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were likely to attend.

Kushner has been a key architect of the US administration’s efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The delegation will fly in to attend the official dedication ceremony for the US Embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood on May 14, the TV report said.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham are reportedly expected to attend, as is Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. The group is also expected to include Jewish leaders and heads of pro-Israel Christian organizations.

Channel 10 said there was no official confirmation from the White House, the Treasury, or US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that the Foreign Ministry will host a reception for “guests” coming to Israel on the occasion of the embassy dedication. He did not provide further details.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump walk through the White House, followed by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, February 15, 2017, (Shmulik Armani)

“Initially, the interim embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador [Friedman] and a small staff. By the end of next year, we will complete the construction of additional office space in the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim capacity,” an official in the Tel Aviv embassy told The Times of Israel last week.

“Most embassy staff will continue to live and work in Tel Aviv during this period, until a new embassy is built in Jerusalem. We expect the process of site selection, design, planning and permitting, and construction of a permanent embassy to take additional years to complete.”

View of the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Friedman, who owns a home in Jerusalem, will “continue to divide his time between his official residence in Herzliya and a residence in Jerusalem during the initial phases of the embassy move, as this is a multi-year process,” the official said.

Trump, who formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the embassy relocation on December 6, had mulled attending the inauguration, but reportedly decided against it.

On March 5, the US president was asked if he would travel to Israel to cut the ribbon on the new facility, almost a year after his first visit to Jerusalem as president.

“I may. I may,” he said during a meeting with Netanyahu in the White House. “We’re looking at coming. If I can, I will.”

While US officials later denied reports that he decided not to come to Israel in May, a presidential visit to Israel is not planned, officials said.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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