Ivanka and Jared embrace Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu after touching down in Jerusalem for the opening of controversial new US Embassy, amid tensions in Gaza and a no-show from major European states
- Ivanka and Jared landed in Israel Sunday morning ahead of US Embassy opening
- The White House advisers attended a reception ceremony Sunday evening
- Photos showed Ivanka and Jared embracing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
- Attending the Foreign Ministry gathering were representatives from Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic, but none from western European Union states
- Meanwhile, Palestinians readied for their own protests on Monday over the embassy’s inauguration, including another mass demonstration in the Gaza Strip
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner landed in Israel Sunday morning ahead of the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem.
The White House advisers will attend the embassy inauguration ceremony scheduled for Monday along with other Washington delegates, including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
President Donald Trump will not be in attendance.
Both Ivanka and Jared were seen embracing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly after their arrival.
Ivanka posted several photos of her and Jared before and after they arrived to Israel. She also shared a boomerang video of her waving at at camera after they landed.
‘Great to join the friends of Zion for an amazing evening commemorating the dedication of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel,’ she wrote on one of the photos.
Scroll down for video
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner landed in Israel Sunday morning ahead of the US Embassy opening
The first daughter and her husband were greeted by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman after they landed on Sunday
The White House advisers will attend the embassy inauguration ceremony scheduled for Monday along with other Washington delegates, including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan (third from left in black) and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (center)
Israel launched celebrations on Sunday for the US Embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem, a move whose break with world consensus was underscored by the absence of most envoys to the country from a reception hosted by Netanyahu.
Monday’s slated opening of the new embassy follows Trump’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision he said fulfilled decades of policy pledges in Washington and formalized realities on the ground.
The embassy move will take place on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, while the following day Palestinians will mark the Nakba, or ‘catastrophe,’ commemorating the more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.
President Donald Trump will not be in attendance
On Sunday, tens of thousands participated in a Jerusalem march, a day ahead of the controversial US embassy move to the disputed city.
The march kicked off a week that will be full of tension between Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinians meanwhile readied for their own protests on Monday over the embassy’s inauguration, including another mass demonstration in the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel.
There are also Palestinian protests planned for Tuesday.
For Israelis, Sunday was Jerusalem Day, an annual celebration of the ‘reunification’ of the city following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
This year’s celebration took on added significance due to the embassy move. The annual march to the Western Wall included many hardline religious nationalists who oppose a Palestinian state.
Marchers dressed in white held Israeli flags as they filed through central Jerusalem toward the Old City with music blaring, including the song ‘Toy’ by Israel’s Netta Barzilai, who won the Eurovision Song Contest early Sunday.
Ivanka and Jared were seen arriving to a reception for the US delegation ahead of the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem at the Israeli Foreign Ministry. She posted this photo of herself and Jared on her Instagram story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) spoke at a reception welcoming the US delegation attended by both Ivanka and Jared. Ivanka is seen embracing Netanyahu ahead of the reception
‘Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years,’ Netanyahu said as Jared and Ivanka watched from the audience
Ivanka posted several photos of her and Jared before and after they arrived to Israel. She also shared a boomerang video of her waving at at camera after they landed
Some had American flags, while banners celebrating President Trump were hung by a pro-Israel evangelical Christian organisation.
Speaking to journalists in the Old City, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat hailed the US embassy move as the beginning of ‘a new world order’.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — bolstered in recent days by Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal — opened a special cabinet meeting at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum by again lauding the embassy move.
He later spoke at a reception welcoming the US delegation attended by both Ivanka and Jared.
‘Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years,’ Netanyahu said.
‘It’s been the capital of our state for the past 70 years. It will remain our capital for all time.’
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, the head of the Washington delegation, called the embassy move ‘a long overdue recognition of reality’.
The Palestinians, who want their own future state with its capital in east Jerusalem, have been outraged by Trump’s shift from previous administrations’ preference for keeping the US Embassy in Tel Aviv pending progress in peace efforts.
Those talks have been frozen since 2014. Other major powers worry that the US move could now inflame Palestinian unrest in the occupied West Bank and on the Gaza Strip border, where Israel reinforced troops in anticipation of the embassy opening.
Most countries say the status of Jerusalem should be determined in a final peace settlement, and say moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.
Addressing dignitaries at the Foreign Ministry, including Mnuchin and the president’s daughter and son-in-law, the Israeli prime minister urged others to follow Washington’s lead.
‘Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it’s the right thing to do,’ Netanyahu said. ‘Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it advances peace, and that’s because you can’t base peace on a foundation of lies.’
Netanyahu said that ‘under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital’.
Jerusalem, which is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, was decorated with roadside flowerbeds in the design of the US flag and posters reading ‘Trump make Israel great again’.
Israel said all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in Israel were invited to the event, and 33 confirmed attendance. Among those present were delegates from Guatemala and Paraguay, which will open their own Jerusalem embassies later this month.
Attending the Foreign Ministry gathering were representatives from Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic, but none from western European Union states – suggesting a rift within the bloc over Trump’s Jerusalem move.
No-show nations withheld comment on Sunday.
The EU mission in Israel tweeted on Friday that the bloc would ‘respect the international consensus on Jerusalem … including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved’.
The Trump administration has sought to keep the door open to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy by saying the embassy move did not aim to prejudge Jerusalem’s final borders. The US consulate in the city, tasked with handling Palestinian ties, will remain.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, the head of the Washington delegation, called the embassy move ‘a long overdue recognition of reality’. Ivanka and Jared are seen smiling and clapping during Sunday’s reception
Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump is seen during a reception held at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem
Washington has not asked Israel to initiate peace moves in exchange for the embassy relocation, US Ambassador Friedman told reporters on Friday: ‘There was no give and take with Israel with regard to this decision.’
Police and the Israeli military have planned major security deployments and around 1,000 police officers will be positioned around the US embassy and surrounding neighborhoods for Monday’s inauguration, said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Israel’s army said it would almost double the number of troops surrounding the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank.
On Sunday, scuffles broke out between Israelis visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem’s Old City, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and Palestinian security officers.
The government of Jordan, the custodian of the site, sent a letter of protest to the Israeli foreign ministry condemning this as a ‘provocation by extremists’, a spokesman said.
Jews are allowed to visit the site but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions and police said a number of visitors were removed for not following the rules.
‘It is not a provocation. It’s our property,’ said Nili Naoun, 42, an Israeli who arrived at the holy site with her family at 7.00am.
The Palestinians plan to demonstrate against Monday’s inauguration from Arab districts abutting the Jerusalem site.
Fifty-four Palestinians have been killed in protests and clashes since March 30 along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.
WHY THE US IS MOVING ITS EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM
The United States opens its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.
On Monday, road signs directing traffic there went up around the neighborhood where it will be situated, and next week’s opening ceremony is timed to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.
The initiative was driven by President Donald Trump, after he broke last year with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Trump said his administration has a peace proposal in the works, and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of America’s closest ally had ‘taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.’
The US opens its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians. The initiative was driven by Trump, after he broke last year with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, celebrated Trump’s decision, but the move upset the Arab world and Western allies.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it a ‘slap in the face’ and said Washington could no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.
Initially, a small interim embassy will operate from the building in southern Jerusalem that now houses US consular operations, while a secure site is found to move the rest of the embassy operations from Tel Aviv.
WHY DID TRUMP RECOGNIZE JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL’S CAPITAL, AND ANNOUNCE THE EMBASSY WILL BE MOVED THERE?
There has long been pressure from pro-Israel politicians in Washington to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and Trump made it a signature promise of his 2016 election campaign.
The decision was popular with many conservative and evangelical Christians who voted for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, many of whom support political recognition of Israel’s claim to the city.
Trump acted under a 1995 law that requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem, but to which other presidents since then – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – consistently signed waivers.
WHY DOES JERUSALEM PLAY SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT?
Religion, politics and history.
Jerusalem has been fought over for millennia by its inhabitants, and by regional powers and invaders.
It is sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and each religion has sites of great significance there.
Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country, although that is not recognised internationally. Palestinians feel equally strongly, saying that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The city even has different names. Jews call it Jerusalem, or Yerushalayim, and Arabs call it Al-Quds, which means ‘The Holy’.
But the city´s significance goes further.
At the heart of the Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount, and to Muslims internationally as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity but all that remains of them above ground is a restraining wall for the foundations built by Herod the Great. Known as the Western Wall, this is a sacred place of prayer for Jews.
Within yards of the wall, and overlooking it, are two Muslim holy places, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was built in the 8th century. Muslims regard the site as the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.
The city is also an important pilgrimage site for Christians, who revere it as the place where they believe that Jesus Christ preached, died and was resurrected.
WHAT IS THE CITY’S MODERN HISTORY AND STATUS?
In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the then British-ruled Palestine should be partitioned into an Arab state and a Jewish state. But it recognized that Jerusalem had special status and proposed international rule for the city, along with nearby Bethlehem, as a ‘corpus separatum’ to be administered by the United Nations.
That never happened. When British rule ended in 1948, Jordanian forces occupied the Old City and Arab East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it.
In 1980 the Israeli parliament passed a law declaring the ‘complete and united’ city of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. But the United Nations regards East Jerusalem as occupied, and the city’s status as disputed until resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
DOES ANY OTHER COUNTRY HAVE AN EMBASSY IN JERUSALEM?
In March Guatemala’s president, Jimmy Morales, said that his country will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the US move.
Netanyahu said in April that ‘at least half a dozen’ countries were now ‘seriously discussing’ following the US lead, but he did not identify them.
In December, 128 countries voted in a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling on the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel´s capital. Nine voted against, 35 abstained and 21 did not cast a vote.
WHAT IS LIKELY TO HAPPEN NEXT? HAS JERUSALEM BEEN A FLASHPOINT BEFORE?
Since Trump’s announcement there have been Palestinian protests and wider political tensions.
Arab leaders across the Middle East have warned the move could lead to turmoil and hamper US efforts to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
More than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in Gaza during a six-week border protest due to culminate on May 15, the day after the US Embassy move and when Palestinians traditionally lament homes and land lost with Israel’s creation.
Although the clashes have not been on the scale of the Palestinian intifadas of 1987-1993 and 2000-2005, violence has erupted before over matters of sovereignty and religion.
In 1969 an Australian Messianic Christian tried to burn down Al-Aqsa Mosque. He failed but caused damage, and prompted fury across the Arab world.
In 2000, the Israeli politician Ariel Sharon, then opposition leader, led a group of Israeli lawmakers onto the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif complex. A Palestinian protest escalated into the second intifada.
Deadly confrontations also took place in July after Israel installed metal detectors at the complex’s entrance after Arab-Israeli gunmen killed two Israeli policemen there.
No Israelis have been wounded and the military has faced criticism over the use of live fire.
Israel says it only opens fire when necessary to stop infiltrations, attacks and damage to the border fence, while accusing Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.
On Sunday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya traveled to Cairo for talks amid speculation over whether Egypt is attempting to calm the situation.
The embassy move has provoked Palestinian anger and led them to freeze ties with the White House.
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
In the decades since 1967, international consensus has been that the city’s status must be negotiated between the two sides, but Trump broke with that to global outrage.
He has argued that it helps make peace possible by taking Jerusalem ‘off the table’, but many have pointed out he has not announced concessions in return from Israel.
‘Tragically, the US administration has chosen to side with Israel’s exclusivist claims over a city that has for centuries been sacred to all faiths,’ the general delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to the United States said.
The US Embassy move ‘gives life to a religious conflict instead of a dignified peace,’ it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, 54 Palestinians have been killed in protests and clashes since March 30 along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel. Protesters have denounced the impending US embassy move to Jerusalem during multiple demonstrations
Around 1,000 police officers will be positioned around the US embassy and surrounding neighborhoods, including the Gaza Strip (protesters pictured on Friday), for Monday’s inauguration, said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld
Israel’s army said it would almost double the number of troops surrounding the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian protesters drag a burning tire during a protest at the Gaza Strip
An Israeli man confronts a Palestinian woman at Damascus gate in Jerusalem on Sunday, as Israeli nationalist settlers celebrate the Jerusalem Day in the Old City
Members of pro-Islamic NGO IHH and other groups hold Turkish and Palestinian flags stage a rally following Friday prayers in Istanbul to protest the US decision to relocate its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. The placard in Turkish reads: ‘Jerusalem belongs to the Muslims’
Source: Read Full Article