Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the announcement late Friday that the U.S. would be moving its embassy to Jerusalem in May in honor of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel.
“This is a great moment for the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the end of the Sabbath.
“President Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebration even happier,” Netanyahu said. President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December last year.
On Friday he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is “the right thing to do.” A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned to mark Israel’s reestablishment as a state 70 years ago on May 14, 1948.
Israel celebrates Independence Day according to the Jewish calendar, which falls on April 19 this year. But according to the Gregorian calendar, May 14 was the day Israel declared its independence 70 years ago.
Palestinians reacted angrily to Friday’s announcement.
Hanan Ashrawi said by choosing to move the embassy on May 14 a day Palestinians mourn what they call “the Nakba” – the catastrophe – that befell them with the reestablishment of the Jewish State, the US administration had added “insult to injury.”
In a series of tweets, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that by choosing that date the U.S. administration showed it’s determination to “destroy the two-state solution, and provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people, as well as of all Arabs, Muslims, and Christians around the globe.”
He also reiterated the Palestinian stand that by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Trump and his team were disqualified from meditating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Many Christians around the world have applauded Trump’s stand on Jerusalem.
Dr. Robert Jeffress, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, told CBN News while visiting Jerusalem that Israel has every right to name its capital.
“We understand every other nation of the world has the right to name its own capital. Why shouldn’t Israel?” Jeffress asked.
“And let’s face it. Israel is our only reliable ally in the Middle East,” he said.
“Jerusalem is the capital already, practically. You know this isn’t something that just happened in the last few years. Three thousand years ago, David was the one who named Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We’re simply confirming what history has already taught us,” Jeffress explained.
According to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, the U.S. embassy “will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood” of Jerusalem in the U.S. consular facility that already exists there.