US ambassador to light Hanukkah menorah at Western Wall with Netanyahu
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US ambassador to light Hanukkah menorah at Western Wall with Netanyahu

David Friedman will join prime minister for official ceremony in the Old City of Jerusalem on fifth night of eight-day festival

View of Hanukkah menorah on the last night of the eight-day Jewish festival at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, December 19, 2017. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
View of Hanukkah menorah on the last night of the eight-day Jewish festival at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, December 19, 2017. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an official menorah-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday night.

Netanyahu will light the menorah on the fifth night of the eight-day long festival which began on Sunday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The ambassador was also invited to light a menorah at the Western Wall last year.

Friedman already participated a public menorah lighting ceremony earlier this week in Jerusalem and drew some controversy by referring to the city as Israel’s “ancient and modern capital” in a tweet celebrating the festival.

US Ambassador David Friedman, left, lighting a Hanukkah menorah, at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem, on December 3, 2018. (Matty Stern/ US Embassy)

Friedman, who is a religiously observant Jew, posted on Twitter that “More than 2000 years ago, Jewish patriots (Maccabees) captured Jerusalem, purified the Holy Temple and rededicated it as a house of Jewish worship. The UN can’t vote away the facts: Jerusalem is the ancient and modern capital of Israel. Happy Chanukah from this blessed city!”

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney rebuked Friedman, saying such comments could prove unhelpful in the quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Responding to the tweet, Coveney wrote: “U are working on a New Peace Initiative that we all hope will be fair, balanced and successful. But comments like this will be seen as provocative and biased. Not helpful in creating the necessary environment of compromise.”

Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, marks the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt from 167 to 160 BCE. An additional candle is lit each consecutive night on eight-branched menorahs to recall a miracle in which a single day’s supply of oil used for the menorah in the temple lasted eight days instead.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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