State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Friday issued a statement that would have been of interest to millions of Zionist, religious Jews who only found out about it a day later:
“In May, the United States plans to open a new US Embassy in Jerusalem. The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary,” the announcement went.
It’s not clear which of the possible dates connected with Israel’s 70th Day of Independence will be the Americans’ target day. Iyar 5, which is the actual day when the late David Ben Gurion declared independence, falls on Friday this year, and so, as per protocol, celebrations will be held on Thursday, April 18, as to not cause the desecration of Shabbat. But the State Dept. might opt for the general calendar date of May 14.
“The Embassy will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of US Consulate General Jerusalem. Those consular operations, including American citizen and visa services, will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the Embassy,” the announcement continued.
“Consulate General Jerusalem will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate, from its historic Agron Road location.
“Initially, the interim Embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the Ambassador and a small staff. By the end of next year, we intend to open a new Embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the Ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space.
“In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent Embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking. We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the US statement was “extremely worrying.”
“Turkey will continue exerting efforts along with the overwhelming majority of the international community to protect the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights in response to the US’ […] decision, which is extremely worrying,” the ministry said in a statement, but did not explain what would be the harm in Israelis going to get their visas in Jerusalem rather than in Tel Aviv (of course, they could still use the Tel Aviv facility, we’re just trying to understand).
Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday the United States’ decision is likely going to undermine the last chance of peace and coexistence between the Israelis and the Palestinians, according to WAFA.
The US’ decision “represents a new and dangerous episode in the series of provocations and wrong [US] decisions that have been going on since last December,” Mahmoud Afifi, spokesman for Aboul Gheit, said in a press statement.
Meanwhile, according to the AP, the Trump administration is considering an offer from pro-Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new US embassy in Jerusalem. Rumors put at the size of Adelson’s donation at half a billion dollars. His worth is currently estimated at $40 billion.