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American Congress to Mark Jerusalem Day for First Time

Congress will celebrate Jerusalem Day on June 7, the 50th anniversary of the day east Jerusalem was conquered by Israeli forces in the 1967 war. Credit for the event is being attributed to the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, who together pitched the idea to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Hoping most of the 435 Congressmen and women will sign on to the celebration, plans are being made to stream the Congressional side to the Knesset in Jerusalem. Speeches, which will emanate from both sides, will be delivered by Vice President Mike Pence, Ryan, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Edelstein. Efforts to enlist the participation of President Trump are under way. But the event will not come without blowback from those who see the electronic linking of hands as “provocative” and insulting to the Palestinians at a time of heightened sensitivity in the form of the new president’s efforts to jump-start the stalled peace process. A report circulating that claims President Trump shouted at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of lying about his personal role behind incitement to violence, is being denied by senior Palestinian officials. Relative to the issue of the Congressional event, the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted an unnamed Palestinian official, who, as part of his denial of the story, asserted that, “It’s no secret that Trump has a group of advisers around him whose main goal is to serve Israel. Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman are also Netanyahu’s advisers, not just Trump’s, so our feeling is that they will try to prevent any move that harms Israel’s position, and we’re certain that the goal of these kind of reports is to serve this interest.”