One week before the formal opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, the city has posted the first signs officially pointing visitors to the facility’s location.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat posted a picture of himself near the new sign on his Facebook page, writing, “This is not a dream – it’s reality! This morning, I am proud and excited to install the first signs for the US embassy, which will open next week in Jerusalem.”
Written in Hebrew, Arabic and English, the signs direct visitors to what is now the consulate in the Arnona neighborhood, south of the historic Old City of Jerusalem. On Monday, May 14, the building will officially become the US Embassy in Israel, in a move President Donald Trump promised during his campaign.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is expected to attend the opening, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, among many others.
The embassy move, coupled with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, infuriated Palestinians, who responded by freezing ties with the US administration.
Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, slammed the decision, in a statement on Monday, “This move is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security. Those who attend the ceremony will thus be sending an ominous message, a message that they encourage flagrant violations of international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”
Palestinian leaders, who at first welcomed Trump as an arbiter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reversed position following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The status of Jerusalem was supposed to be one of the final and most sensitive issues addressed in negotiations toward a lasting peace deal.
Trump’s decisions, the leaders said, exposed Trump as firmly biased toward Israel and rendered his administration incapable of leading Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The administration maintains it will be a fair negotiating partner and still intends to introduce a framework for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Trump’s recognition was overwhelmingly condemned by the United Nations General Assembly in early December, with 128 countries voting in favor of condemnation and only nine voting against.
Since Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, he has remained very popular in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hosting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, hailed a “deep friendship” between the US and Israel that is “getting even deeper and stronger.”
Netanyahu has said a half-dozen other countries are also looking at moving their embassies to Jerusalem, but so far, only Guatemala has concrete plans to do so. Guatemala will officially open its embassy in Jerusalem two days after the opening of the American outpost.