Trump says countries begged him to nix Israeli embassy relocation: ‘Don’t do it’
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Trump says countries begged him to nix Israeli embassy relocation: ‘Don’t do it’

Speaking at CPAC as May opening of US embassy in Jerusalem is confirmed, president says he faced 'incredible' campaign to stop move, but that it is 'the right thing to do'

US President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 23, 2018 in National Harbor, MD (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)
US President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 23, 2018 in National Harbor, MD (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

US President Donald Trump said Friday that moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is “the right thing to do.” He spoke as the US formally confirmed that it will open its embassy in Jerusalem in May, in temporary premises at the current US consulate in south Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israeli independence.

Trump was addressing his decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He said foreign countries put pressure on him not to move the embassy and begged him, “Don’t do it, don’t do it.”

Trump said the campaign against moving the embassy was “incredible,” but that the campaign in favor was also incredible. He said that ultimately, his administration “did the right thing.”

Trump’s December declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans to relocate the embassy there was met with worldwide condemnation. That same month the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the administration’s move and calling on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city.

His comments come as the State Department notified Congress on Friday that the Jerusalem embassy will open in May, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.

US Foreign Secretary Rex Tillerson speaks during a joint press conference with Jordanian foreign minister in Amman on February 14, 2018. (AFP/ Khalil Mazraawi)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the security plan for the new embassy on Thursday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was being planned for mid-May. Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948. According to Channel 10 and Hadashot news, the ceremony could be held on May 14 to honor that date.

The May opening marks a significant acceleration. Vice President Mike Pence had said previously the embassy would open by the end of 2019. And Tillerson had said it could take years.

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