Caution, the Embassy opens
The transfer of the US diplomatic mission in Israel threatens new instability.
Today in Jerusalem will be opened by the U.S. Embassy, the first foreign Embassy in the Holy city that remains a bone of contention between Israel and Palestine. Given the unresolved status of Jerusalem, the most accredited in Israel ambassadors and part of Israeli politicians have expressed their disagreement with the decision of the President of trump on the transfer of the Embassy, ignoring the solemn reception on the occasion of its opening. And today, the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem to protest will hold a strike and demonstration. Brewing protests in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. With details from Jerusalem — correspondent of “Kommersant” Marianna Belenkaya.
The opening ceremony of the Embassy of the United States will be held today in Jerusalem, in the second half of the day in the American Consulate, which immediately thereafter changed its status. However, the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will have to be torn in two cities. Most American diplomats will remain in tel Aviv until at least the end of the year, given that you can place the entire American diplomatic mission in a limited area of the former Consulate General in Jerusalem is physically impossible. And to build a new, larger, building will take time.
In the opening ceremony of the Embassy will be attended by about 800 people. Donald trump has decided to limit message sending to Israel is the daughter Ivanka with her husband and at the same time his adviser Jared Kushner. The official delegation headed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of state John L. Sullivan also included Minister of Finance Steven Mnuchin, envoy of the President on the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, Senator Lindsey Graham, representatives of the American Jewish and Christian communities.
They gathered Sunday in the Israeli foreign Ministry for a reception on the occasion of the opening of the Embassy, which was held with the participation of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah. However, the party was absent nearly a third of the accredited Israeli ambassadors, including ambassadors of the European Union, Russia, Egypt and Mexico (these countries oppose the decision to transfer the Embassy).
“The demarche of the ambassadors looks funny. Are ambassadors, and heads of state that they represent, regularly hold talks in Jerusalem,” — said “Kommersant” the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin.
Among the Europeans, the General trend violates the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Austria. The Austrian Ambassador in Israel, Martin Weiss told “Kommersant” that his presence at the reception, does not mean that his country recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is going to translate here its Embassy. “But the opening of a U.S. Embassy is a great event for Israel, therefore I could not accept the invitation of the Prime Minister and on this day rejoice with the people of Israel,” said the Ambassador.
According to Israeli media, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania blocked the adoption of the joint statement of the EU, initiated by France. It was emphasized that Jerusalem should be the capital of two States — Israel and Palestine, and the city status can only be determined in negotiations.
“The transfer of our Embassy does not constitute a waiver of our strong commitment to promote durable peace agreement. It is rather a necessary condition for this. We do not take any position on final-status issues, including the specific borders of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and the settlement of the question of the disputed borders,” — reads the statement of the state Department, issued on the eve of the moving of the Embassy. The fact that the decision of Donald trump puts an end to the question about the future of Jerusalem, recognize the Israeli authorities. “Despite the fact that Jerusalem is a United and indivisible capital of Israel, President trump, unfortunately, didn’t say that,” said ze’ev Elkin.
It is symbolic that the celebration of the opening of the Embassy coincided with the celebration in Israel is Jerusalem Day. This national holiday was established in honor of the unification of East and West Jerusalem after Israel’s victory in the six day war in 1967. From that time Israel has extended its jurisdiction over both parts of the city, but according to UN security Council resolutions, the Eastern part is under occupation. Most Arab residents of East Jerusalem, making up a third of the city’s population, most of them instead of Israeli citizenship is the only permanent resident status, which they can lose at any time, for example leaving for a few years to work in another country. Life in the Arab neighborhoods is different from living in Jewish areas of the city. According to human rights activists, not enough hospitals, and especially schools and over 2500 classes; in many quarters — problems with electricity and water; no reconstruction of roads; it is extremely difficult to obtain a permit for the construction of new buildings.
At the same time, as told “Kommersant” Zeev Elkin, a year ago was allocated subsidies for the development of East Jerusalem, now under consideration of the government is five-year plan for allocating 2 billion shekels. “These amounts in these areas has not been invested for decades by any government,” he explained.
“Jerusalem is a challenge for the Israeli government. To have a third of the Arab population in the city, which authorities called one and indivisible capital of Israel, is very problematic. This is not a Jewish city. But the translation of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem actually unleashes the Israeli authorities hand”, — said “Kommersant” researcher NGO “IR amim” (“City of peoples”), Aviv Tatarsky. “If Israeli politicians are happy, the Arabs in anger. The city’s fear of acts of violence,” continues Mr. Tatar.
“In East Jerusalem, the people are very angry. The US is no longer for us a mediator in resolving the conflict, they are completely on the side of Israel”, — said “Kommersant” activist Aziz Abu Sarah.
Amid mounting protest the Palestinian Association of national organizations and associations of Jerusalem called on the Arab population of the city to close Monday from 13:00 all the shops and heading toward the American Embassy “as close as it can.” “We will not interfere with the opening of the Embassy. But we must Express our opinion, tell the world about the problems of the Arab population of the city,” said Palestinian activist Imad Muna.
It is planned that the protests must be peaceful, as it was last summer, when Palestinians opposed additional security measures on the Temple mount. But then completely avoid the collision failed. Not the fact that it will happen this time. The more that demonstrations and protests will be held throughout Palestine. The opening of the Embassy coincided not only with the Day of Jerusalem, but also with the Day of the Nakba (catastrophe) which Palestinians annually celebrated on may 15 in memory of the thousands of refugees deprived of their homes in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 when the State of Israel. This year the protest was scheduled from 30 March to 15 may. As a result of the protests, which were initially planned as peaceful, killed about 30 Palestinians.
HelpWhat you need to know about the dispute around Jerusalemand trump announced the postponement of the U.S. Embassy from tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively recognizing the latter as the capital of Israel. The conflict in the region threatens to flare up again.Read more