Why is the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem?

FILE PHOTO: A worker holds a road sign directing to the U.S. embassy, in the area of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem
A worker holds a road sign directing to the US embassy in Jerusalem, May 7, 2081. (photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

The United States opens its new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that has delighted Israel and infuriated Palestinians.

By Stephen Farrell | Farrell | May 7, 2018

In 1947 the UN recognized that Jerusalem had special status and proposed international rule for the city, along with nearby Bethlehem, as a “corpus separatum” to be administered by the United Nations. That never happened.

On Monday, road signs directing traffic there went up around the neighborhood where the US Embassy will be situated, and next week’s opening ceremony is timed to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. The initiative was driven by President Donald Trump, after he broke last year with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump said his administration has a peace proposal in the works, and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of America’s closest ally had “taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.”

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, celebrated Trump’s decision, but the move upset the Arab world and Western allies. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it a “slap in the face” and said Washington could no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.

Initially, a small interim embassy will operate from the building in southern Jerusalem that now houses U.S. consular operations, while a secure site is found to move the rest of the embassy operations from Tel Aviv.

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