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Netanyahu hails U.S. Embassy move as ‘a great moment’ for Israel

After the United States announced that it will relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as early as May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the move will “make our Independence Day celebration even happier.”

View of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, Israel, Feb. 24, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
View of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, Israel, Feb. 24, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday hailed a recently announced U.S. plan to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from its current abode in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as early as May of this year, calling the move “a great moment for the State of Israel.”

“President Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem will make our Independence Day celebration even happier,” Netanyahu said, noting that the planned relocation will coincide with the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. “Thank you, President Trump, for your leadership and for your friendship.”

The Israeli Embassy in Washington issued a statement saying, “President Trump’s decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem on the coming Independence Day follows his historic declaration in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This decision will turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into an even bigger celebration. Thank you President Trump for your leadership and friendship.”

On Facebook, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat thanked Trump for “fulfilling your promise to bring the U.S. Embassy home to Jerusalem, the eternal, united capital of the Jewish people.”

He added that “this gift is a particularly meaningful way to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. This is a recognition of Jerusalem not just in words, but in deeds. We look forward to hosting you this year at the Jerusalem embassy!”

Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said Trump’s “courageous decision is proof of the strength of the genuine alliance and friendship between the United States and Israel. This is the hour to recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel.”

Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin urged additional countries to follow the American lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem as well.

“We at the Jerusalem Ministry will give any assistance necessary to advance this process, to both the U.S. State Department and to any other country that is interested,” said Elkin.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said “the people in Israel thank the U.S. president for the friendship, the courage and the determination in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. You will be recorded in the chronicles of Israel.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely praised the Trump administration for its “actions to implement the historic decision” to transfer the U.S. Embassy.

And Michael Oren, deputy minister and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, called the announcement “a great moment for the State of Israel.”

He said he believed additional countries would follow in its footsteps and relocate their own embassies to Jerusalem.

“This is another step that proves Trump is a president who lives up to his word,” he said, adding that Israel was committed to channeling its strong friendship with the U.S. administration to work towards a genuine solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I congratulate President Trump and thank him from the bottom of my heart.”

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter said: “In a 70-year delay, the U.S. Embassy will be located in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.

Calling the move “a small step for America, a giant step for Israel and humanity,” Dichter said “we hope this move will propel other countries around the world to transfer their embassy to Jerusalem.”

According to Likud MK Anat Berko, “this news only proves how important Israel is to the international community and how beloved it is to the U.S.”

Likud MK Yehuda Glick hailed the move as “a historic decision of biblical proportions.”

Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer said that with the embassy relocation, “the Americans have proved that the winds that have blown since President Trump entered [office] are genuine.” He hailed his “friends in Congress and the American administration for keeping their promise and their steadfast stance alongside Israel and Jerusalem.”

United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev was slightly more cautious in his praise for the move. He said the embassy relocation was “a good thing if it comes from the recognition of the importance of the issue, and not from a demand by Israel and in the hope that we will not end up paying a heavy price.”

Opposition lawmakers also welcomed the move.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said Israel should “thank President Trump for a wonderful gift for Israel’s 70th birthday.”

In a statement, the president of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Dr. Jurgen Buhler, said: “We are grateful to the Trump administration, which has kept its promise to transfer the American Embassy to the capital, the place where it should be. We join the people of Israel and its government in saluting the gesture.

“The Christian Embassy hopes other countries will join the move and we are acting to achieve this goal through our representatives and activists around the world. It is our belief that the transfer of the U.S. Embassy and other embassies from around the world will bolster the city’s standing around the world and the freedom of religion that the State of Israel grants the city.”

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