Trump hails anniversary of embassy relocation to Jerusalem

Trump hails anniversary of embassy relocation to Jerusalem

Year after move, US president says mission ‘a proud reminder … of the importance of keeping a promise’

US President Donald Trump speaks at the Cameron LNG Export Facility on May 14, 2019, in Hackberry, Louisiana. ( Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks at the Cameron LNG Export Facility on May 14, 2019, in Hackberry, Louisiana. ( Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

One year after the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, President Donald Trump heralded the decision as a sign of the strong US-Israel relationship.

Trump referenced the anniversary in a tweet Tuesday, calling it “a proud reminder of our strong relationship with Israel and of the importance of keeping a promise and standing for the truth.”

Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017 and moved the embassy into the building formerly housing the US consulate in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018.  The move was timed to coincide with the English anniversary of Israel’s founding in 1948.

The decision to move the embassy, and what Trump says was a bargain-basement price he got for the building, is a fixture at his campaign rallies, where it has proven popular with his evangelical Christian base.

The Jerusalem municipality marked the date by projecting Israeli and American flags onto the walls of the Old City.

View of the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, Israel, shortly before it became the American embassy in Israel, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The anniversary gave rise in the Israeli media to both celebration and articles exploring the effects of the embassy opening. Critics had predicted the move would lead to an increase in violence in the already tense region, although defenders of the move said no such backlash came about.

The most intense violence coincided with the embassy opening on the Gaza border; Gazan health officials said 60 Palestinians were killed during riots along the frontier. The Israeli military said the Hamas terror group used the protests as cover to attempt cross-border raids and attacks on troops.

A picture taken on May 14, 2018 from the southern Israeli kibbutz of Nahal Oz across the border with the Gaza Strip shows Palestinian protestors gathering along the border fence with Israel (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, wrote in Israel Hayom that the move “places the United States firmly on the right side of history.”

“Contrary to all the negative predictions, the Jerusalem embassy has been an extraordinary success, advancing peaceful coexistence, bilateral cooperation and cultural exchange between and among Israelis, Palestinians and Americans,” Friedman said in the article published Sunday.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks at an event marking one year since the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, May 14, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On Tuesday, he called the embassy a “a new shrine in the ancient city of Jerusalem,” at a party celebrating the anniversary.

The Palestinian Authority’s news agency, Wafa, meanwhile, marked the date by writing that the “Israeli army crackdown on [the Gaza] protests was as ruthless as the US decision [to move the embassy],” in an article published Tuesday.

Only Guatemala has permanently followed suit in moving its embassy to Jerusalem in the past year. Paraguay opened an embassy in the city in May, but then closed it and returned to Tel Aviv after a new president was elected.

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