Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday praised Donald Trump for “making history by recognizing history” at a ceremony dedicating the new US embassy in Jerusalem, while President Reuven Rivlin thanked the US president for “keeping his promise.”
“What a glorious day,” Netanyahu told the crowd at the new embassy building in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona. “Remember this moment, this is history. President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history.”
“Today, the embassy of the most powerful country on earth, our friend and ally, the United States of America, opens in Jerusalem,” he exclaimed.
Some 800 guests attended the embassy dedication. Representing the US at the opening were US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. US Ambassador David Friedman was presiding over the dedication ceremony.
“We have no better friends in the world,” Netanyahu told the American guests.
Addressing Kushner and Ivanka Trump, he said, “Your presence here today is a testament to the importance of this occasion,” and thanked them for their “pursuit of peace.”
“In Jerusalem, King David established Jerusalem as a capital 3,000 years ago,” Netanyahue continued. “King Solomon later built the Temple, and over 2,000 years later, we got to hear the sentence ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands.’ We are here in Jerusalem, and we are here to stay.
“We are here to celebrate another historic moment in the history of this city,” he said, comparing the relocation of the embassy to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
“Thank you, President Trump, for making the bond between us stronger than ever,” Netanyahu said. “Ambassador Friedman, thanks for everything you do to bring our countries closer than ever. You are the first US ambassador to serve your country from Jerusalem, and that is an immense honor.
“This is a good day for peace too. You can only build peace upon truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years,” he said. “May the opening of this embassy spread the truth far and wide.”
President Rivlin spoke earlier at the ceremony. “’Our feet were standing, within your gates in the gates of Jerusalem,’ the capital of Israel,” he said, quoting from Psalm 122. “For three thousand years, the Jewish people kept their faith in Jerusalem. For three thousand years we prayed for Jerusalem, and since the establishment of the State of Israel 70 years ago, Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel.
“The State of Israel’s commitment to Jerusalem is not only a commitment to the history of the Jewish people, but it is also a commitment to all residents of Jerusalem,” he continued. “Jerusalem is a microcosm of our ability, Jews and Arabs, to live together. The unity of Jerusalem is also seen in that all living in the city are equal.
“As of this happy day, Jerusalem is also home to the embassy to Israel of the United States of America, thank God,” Rivlin said, thanking the US Congress and its members from both parties “for their love and support for Israel.”
“In every US election, every presidential candidate has promised to move the American embassy to Jerusalem,” he added. “Finally, we have a leader who promised it and also kept his promise. And for this, we give thanks that we have arrived at this place at this time.
“President Trump, the Israeli people thank you for keeping your word, for your courage, for your determination, and for your firm, unwavering stand alongside the State of Israel,” he concluded. “We hope and expect that other nations will follow your path and your leadership. We will continue to safeguard Jerusalem, as the city of peace, as a city home to all those of faith. A city of all its residents and citizens, of all religions and communities, who share together one city, which is so greatly loved.”
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see its eastern neighborhoods as the capital of their future state.
Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the embassy there 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.
Before and during the ceremony, deadly Hamas-spurred clashes raged between Palestinians and Israeli security forces on the Gaza Strip border.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire amid mass protests on the border in commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba Day, which marks the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding 70 years ago. The Israeli military said Hamas was making repeated efforts to breach the border, which it was repelling.