Palestinians Rail Against May 14 U.S. Embassy Opening In Jerusalem
The Palestinian leadership again voiced outraged at the Trump administration, which confirmed over the weekend that the U.S. Embassy would officially open in Jerusalem on May 14, the seventieth anniversary of Israel’s independence. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the American move showed a “determination to violate international law, 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.” In the wake of the announcement confirming the relocation date, protests erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a regular occurrence since the White House recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December. Since then, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has boycotted U.S. officials while touring the globe to lobby foreign governments to devise a new multi-lateral mechanism that would effectively sideline the Americans from the negotiating process with Israel. By contrast, leaders across the Israeli political spectrum hailed the decision to relocate the U.S. mission so quickly, a move that initially was expected to take a few years. The embassy, to be based in a refurbished American consular facility in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, will at first operate in a limited capacity, likely housing only the ambassador and a few others until a larger property can be acquired or built. In the latest twist to the story, the U.S. State Department is reportedly considering an offer by Sheldon Adelson—a Republican mega-donor and steadfast supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu—to pay for some of the relocation expenses which are estimated at around $500 million. Such costs are generally covered by the American taxpayer, thus raising concern that Adelson’s injection into the process could constitute the first step in a slippery slope leading to the “privatization” of U.S. foreign policy.