Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has added more fuel to the already heated debate on the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Israel.
As reported by The Washington Examiner, Barkat was seen Monday hoisting up a sign that officially recognized the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
“This is not a dream — it’s reality! This morning, I installed the signs for the new #USembassy in #Jerusalem!,” Barkat Tweeted. “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people — and the world is beginning to recognize this fact! Thank you @POTUS!”
By the end of this month, the U.S. will be the first country in the world to have relocated its Israeli-based embassy to Jerusalem.
The State Department announced in February that the move would be taking place by summer.
“The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary,” said Heather Nauert, who is the State Department spokeswoman. “We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening.”
However, the move is predicted to cause even more backlash, as multiple protests have already been seen throughout the Palestinian region of Gaza.
“Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation, and the U.S administration must reconsider its move,” said Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri.
Though it is customary for diplomats to place their headquarters in the nation’s capital, the fragile state of Jerusalem within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has caused much debate around the decision. But White House officials say the move is going forward no matter the resistance from the surrounding territories.
“The embassy will initially be located in the Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem,” Nauert said.
“Those consular operations, including American citizen and visa services, will continue at the Arnona facility without interruption, as part of the Embassy,” she added.
As the Examiner reports, the pre-existing location will essentially allow the U.S. to avoid certain difficulties that are sure to follow with the move.
A number of White House officials have insisted that allowing Israel to announce its capital will not “prejudge” any future peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
President Donald Trump and his team remain hopeful that a peace plan can be negotiated between the two states that might see a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state.
“We recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Jerusalem,” said Ambassador David Satterfield. “But we are not changing or taking a position on the boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem, including geographic boundaries.”
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