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United States Moves Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem

14 May 2018

The United States officially opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem on Monday, fulfilling a pledge by President Donald Trump who has recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said during his speech that the embassy in Jerusalem will be "a magnificent tribute to peace- that's what we are celebrating here today".

The new embassy is opening in part of a pre-existing American visa-and-passport facility and will have an initial staff of at least 50, according to senior Trump administration officials previewing the highly anticipated opening.

Gaza residents streamed to the border area for what was meant to be the largest protest yet against the decade-old blockade of the territory.

"This is a great day".

Other Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire were identified as Musab Yusuf (28), Ubaidah Salim (30), Muhammad Ashraf (26), Eiz alDin Musa (14), Eiz alDin Nahid (23) and Belal Ahmed (26).

The Israeli army said 10,000 "violent rioters" are participating in the Gaza protest.

The windy road leading up to the city was decorated with fluttering American and Israeli flags Monday as signs everywhere declared "Trump, Make Israel Great".

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The rallies will culminate on Tuesday, May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment - an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "the Catastrophe".

While Netanyahu enthusiastically greeted Trump's decision to move the embassy, some Jerusalem residents have gone to court to try to stop it.

The military said the protesters threw Molotov cocktails, burned tires, and stones at Israeli soldiers positioned along the fence.

Prior to Monday's demonstrations, almost 50 Palestinians had died and more than 9,500 had been injured in the border protests, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The general delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to the United States said the US Embassy's move "gives life to a religious conflict instead of a dignified peace".

Hundreds of Palestinians who have been protesting the embassy move marched through the streets of Gaza on Saturday carrying the body of a protester shot by Israeli troops.

The Trump administration has almost completed a long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but is still undecided on how and when to roll it out, given Palestinian anger at Trump's embassy move.

Israel has said it will prevent a border breach at any cost.

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"There are handsome views here that will be blocked by the big wall they're planning to build", said Naomi Schachter, who's sought to block the project with other neighbors.

Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem left Palestinians saying the United States could no longer position itself as a peacemaker.

Palestinians have long viewed East Jerusalem as the true capital of a future Palestinian State.

As NPR's Steve Inskeep notes, "the Trump administration, which supported Israel's claim with [the] embassy move, maintains Jerusalem's borders are still to be negotiated".

For many years the USA - like the rest of the world's countries - has declined to put the embassy in Jerusalem, saying that the status of the city needs to be decided in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Other major powers worry that the United States move could also inflame Palestinian unrest in the occupied West Bank, which Israel captured along with East Jerusalem in a 1967 war. Paraguay is to follow suit later this month. Most of the world maintains embassies in Tel Aviv, saying the Jerusalem issue must first be resolved.

"Of all the things President Trump could have done, doing this (embassy move) is the strongest signal he could send to the Israeli people", South Carolina's Graham said.

"Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to keep your promises", he added.

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United States Moves Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem