Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that US President Donald Trump was making history by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.
Addressing a Foreign Ministry’s reception celebrating the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem, Netanyahu called on world leaders to follow Washington’s lead and bring their missions to the Israeli capital.
Thanking the US delegation in Jerusalem for the embassy opening, set for the following day, Netanyahu said, “There are no greater supporters of Israel on the face of the earth.”
“We are eternally grateful,” the prime minister said. “President Trump is making history.”
He added: “Tomorrow will be a historic day for our people and for our state. President Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem affirms a great and simple truth: Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past three thousand years. It’s been the capital of our state for the past 70 years. It will remain our capital for all time.”
Netanyahu went on to explain why he believes other nations should also bring their embassies to Jerusalem, urging them: “Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it’s the right thing to do. And move your embassies to Jerusalem… because it advances peace, and that’s because you can’t base peace on a foundation of lies. You base peace on the foundations of truth. And the truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia and the capital of our state from its inception. The truth is that under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital.”
In greeting the delegation, headed by US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Netanyahu also gave a “special welcome to Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka. I have known Jared for 25 years. There’s a special bond between our families.”
The Foreign Ministry invited 86 foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel to the event, a day before the official move. About 40 of them announced their participation, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Saturday, including Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary, four countries which broke with a European consensus against participating.
Netanyahu, who was in a jovial mood, said Israel “is a rising power in the world, you know, in cyber, in IT, in water, in judo, in singing — a reference to Netta Barzilai, the Israeli singer who won the annual Eurovision song contest the night before, earning Israel the honor of hosting next year’s competition.
“Those who didn’t want Jerusalem in the Eurovision, are getting the Eurovision in Jerusalem,” he said triumphantly.
The prime minister also thanked the governments of Guatemala and Paraguay for choosing to move their embassies to Jerusalem, and added that others will follow as well, but “we won’t say who because that’s a state secret.”
“We don’t reveal our state secrets. We reveal other’s state secrets,” Netanyahu said, in a clear allusion to an archive of secret Iranian files documenting Tehran’s efforts in the past to produce atomic bombs, nabbed by Israeli intelligence from a warehouse in Tehran and then showcased by Netanyahu in a press conference at the end of last month. Netanyahu said at the time that the documentation proved categorically that Iran had lied to the world about its nuclear weapons program.
Trump cited the Israeli exposure of the files when he announced last week he was pulling the US out of the 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers which offered sanctions relief for Iran in return for it dismantling parts of the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear program. European countries party to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, have said they will continue to maintain the pact.
Netanyahu, who had always opposed the agreement, thanked the US president for withdrawing from the nuclear deal.
“I thank President Trump for his decision to confront Iran, rather than appeasing it,” he said at the reception party. “To those in European capitals, we in the Middle East have seen the disastrous consequences of the Iran deal, So when President Trump walks out of the deal, he’s doing a good thing for Israel, for the region and for the world.”
Some 800 guests are expected to attend Monday’s embassy inauguration. Representing the US at the opening will be Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Sullivan, Mnuchin, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. US Ambassador David Friedman will preside over the dedication ceremony.
The prime minister presented Friedman with a framed version of Trump’s presidential order announcing the recognition Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the US Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
The development delighted the Israeli government, but angered Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Most European countries have slammed Trump’s move as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until the status of Jerusalem is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.