Jerusalem: The United States officially opened its deeply controversial Jerusalem embassy on Monday in a ceremony that included a video address by President Donald Trump. Trump told the ceremony that the United States remained committed to reaching a lasting Middle East peace though the move of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has provoked outrage.
A plaque and seal was unveiled at the ceremony officially opening the embassy. Earlier in the day, violent clashes erupted along the Gaza Strip’s border, leaving 37 Palestinians dead from Israeli fire and hundreds wounded in the conflict’s bloodiest day in years.
Tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman also spoke at the ceremony in Jerusalem and Trump was given a standing ovation when he mentioned him. Friedman referred to the embassy’s location as “Jerusalem, Israel” drawing wild applause.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan led the Washington delegation at the inauguration that also included Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Some 800 guests were attending the ceremony. 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.