US envoy met with protests, praise ahead of embassy opening in Jerusalem

World Today

Israelis march with their national flag along the old city walls of Jerusalem on May 13, 2018, as they celebrate the Jerusalem Day, an annual celebration of the “reunification” of the city following the 1967 Six-Day War. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

Festivities in Israel as the country celebrates the 70th anniversary of its founding and the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

But not everyone is celebrating. The opening in Jerusalem falls on a day of mourning for Palestinians. Monday marks the date when hundreds-of-thousands of Palestinians lost their homes to Israel in 1948. Now some Palestinians factions are calling for a ‘day of rage’ to protest the opening.

CGTN’s Stephanie Freid explains the controversy behind the move.

Street signs are up, lawns and gardens are getting a manicure and the finishing touches are being applied outside the recently relocated U.S. Embassy in Israel. The highly controversial embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will be official on Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed an American delegation, led by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, at a celebration in Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on the eve of the opening. Netanyahu praised Trump’s ‘bold decision,’ insisting the embassy move is ‘the right thing to do’ and ordered other countries to follow suit. But that plea went largely unheard. While all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in Israel were invited to the event, officials report only 33 confirmed attendance.

The relocation is seen as cementing U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – recognition previous administrations and other world leaders never dared for formalize. The decades-long policy had always been that the status of Jerusalem would be agreed upon in final stage peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Peace talks have been lifeless for years and analysts predict this move hammers a nail in the proverbial coffin of the peace process.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas halted ties with the White House and declared the Trump administration unfit to remain in its role as the mediator in peace talks. Nevertheless, there’s speculation that U.S. envoys are formulating a peace plan that could be revealed within the coming weeks.

The move has also prompted mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border and beyond. The rival Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, has been staging a series of weekly demonstrations against a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory. Those demonstrations are expected to swell on Monday. Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to gather along the Israel-Gaza border in an event timed to coincide with the embassy move.

Sunday, Israel took steps to bolstered its forces along the Gaza border and in the West Bank in anticipation of mass protests.

Since Mar. 30, 42 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the weekly protests aimed primarily against the decade-long blockade of Gaza. More than 1,800 have been wounded.

Protests erupt in Gaza over embassy Jerusalem embassy moving

CGTN’s Adel El Mahrouky reports from Gaza as mass protests break out ahead of United States embassy moving to Jerusalem.