Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have arrived in Israel to open the new US embassy in Jerusalem.
The US president’s daughter and son-in-law, as well as other senior administration officials, will attend the opening of the embassy later on Monday, around 4 p.m. local time.
Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, fulfilling a campaign pledge and upending decades of US policy in the Middle East.
Monday’s ceremony will be largely symbolic, as the new embassy building isn’t ready yet – only a small interim embassy will start operating on Monday inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem.
A larger site will be found later when the rest of the existing US embassy relocates from Tel Aviv
Scroll down to see more photos of the visit.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrived in Israel on Sunday for the opening.
Video: U.S. Presidential Delegation for Jerusalem Embassy dedication ceremony arrives at Ben Gurion AIrport, May 13, 2018. pic.twitter.com/4RiFoveTtJ
— USEmbassyJerusalem (@usembassyjlm) May 13, 2018
They were joined by other senior US officials including Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who greeted them upon their arrival.
The city of Jerusalem was decked out with US and Israeli flags, and posters reading: “Trump is a friend of Zion.”
Streets of Jerusalem are festooned w/American & Israeli flags plus big posters hailing Pres. Trump as a ‘Friend of Zion’ pic.twitter.com/ANOjX0fpsa
— Clare Lopez (@ClareMLopez) May 11, 2018
Monday’s ceremony will largely be symbolic, as the new embassy in Jerusalem isn’t ready yet — only a small interim embassy inside the existing US consulate will start operating on Monday. Here’s a sneak peek of the new, larger embassy being built.
Just a few days before the historic opening of the beautiful United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. So excited for the ceremony and proud of all the Embassy staff who worked so hard to make this event happen. Eternally grateful to President Trump for his courage and vision. pic.twitter.com/pGVENzJlBt
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) May 11, 2018
The opening ceremony of the consulate was brought forward to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, the BBC reported.
Upon their arrival on Sunday night, Trump and Kushner attended a reception at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem upon their arrival.
There they met up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And here they are with Netanyahu and his wife Sara during the sounding of the US national anthem at the reception.
The US officials also had to an intimate dinner at the Netanyahu residence that evening.
Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew on Monday: “What an exciting day for the people of Israel and the State of Israel! Once again, we were dreamers.”
Ivanka thanked the Netanyahus for dinner, noting that she was “honored to join you and the US Delegation in commemorating the dedication of our new embassy and celebrating the friendship between our two countries.”
Thank you Prime Minister @netanyahu & Mrs. Netanyahu for the warm welcome to Israel. I am honored to join you & the US Delegation in commemorating the dedication of our new @usembassyjlm & celebrating the friendship between our two countries. #USEmbassyJerusalem ???????? ???????? pic.twitter.com/DY4z9sXnnS
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 14, 2018
Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians are expected along the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip to protest the new embassy on Monday. The Israeli army said it would double the number of troops surrounding Gaza and the West Bank in anticipation.
While East Jerusalem, including the historic Old City, has been under Israeli control since 1967, Palestinians view it as the capital of any future state.
Palestinian critics see the Trump administration’s recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital as backing Israeli control over the entire city.
Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, called the US decision “the slap of the century.”
Trump will not be attending the opening ceremony, but expected to deliver a speech via video link during the ceremony, at 4 p.m. local time on Monday.
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