Trump, aides celebrate Jerusalem embassy, as border burns

Associated Press • May 14, 2018 at 3:20 PM

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and his top aides on Monday hailed the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a “great day,” a position that roiled the Arab world and fueled deadly protests along the Israel-Palestinian border.

The move ends — at least for now — America’s chances of becoming a neutral peace broker in the Middle East. And while the approach was swiftly condemned by Muslim world leaders, Trump’s new policy appeases a powerful pro-Israeli lobby within the Republican party.

Attending the ceremony Monday was Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who at one point offered to pay for part of the new embassy. Also attending was Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who work as senior White House aides.

“While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American embassy once they were in office, this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,” Kushner, Trump’s chief Mideast adviser, told attendees.

The relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv is U.S. recognition that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This position has angered the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as a future capital. Gaza’s Health Ministry says the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire amid mass protests near the Gaza border has reached several dozen.

“The president is making difficult decisions because they are what he believes are the right long term decisions and not just kicking the can down the road,” Mnuchin said.

Also attending the ceremony were Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

The embassy celebration was widely considered a snub by the Palestinians. Roughly 800 guests were expected to attend. U.S. officials said last week that Trump’s delegation was not planning on meeting Palestinian officials during their visit. The Trump administration in recent months also has slashed U.S. aid to the Palestinians and programs that support them.

“Of all the things President Trump could have done, doing this (embassy move) is the strongest signal he could send to the Israeli people,” South Carolina’s Graham said.

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