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.
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.