The US officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on May 14 when a new US Embassy opened there. It will be housed temporarily in the former consulate building in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona while officials look for a permanent location.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and several members of Congress attended the opening ceremony. President Trump did not attend in person but spoke to the group via video.
During an elaborate dedication ceremony, Trump addressed a crowd via a taped video message, saying that the opening had been “a long time coming.”
“Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the Israeli government, the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli Supreme Court and Israel’s prime minister and president,” he said. “For many years, we failed to acknowledge the obvious … the plain reality that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem.”
It’s a controversial move that breaks with decades of official US policy — and it comes at a particularly tumultuous time for Israel and the region.
The Independent notes that May 14 coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. It’s also a day before what Palestinians call Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, where Palestinians commemorate lands they either fled or were evicted from after the creation of the state of Israel. It’s also just before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
The day of the decision, Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border; dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire and thousands wounded, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.