US Plans to Open Jerusalem Embassy Opposed Across Middle East


One of President Donald Trump’s most contentious foreign policy projects, the inauguration of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, is set to be carried out on Monday even as peace in the Middle East seems more elusive than ever.

While Trump, who vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv during his campaign, isn’t attending, he’ll address invitees to the designation ceremony via video conference, according to two U.S. officials. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be among the U.S. delegation.

“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump declared on Dec. 6, saying that he hoped the move could spur renewed peace negotiations. But the decision angered much of the Middle East, including U.S. allies, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responded by breaking off all contact with the Trump administration.

“It ended the role of the United States as an honest broker,” Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to Abbas and former chief negotiator with Israel, told reporters last week as he stood on a hillside between the diplomatic compound and the east Jerusalem Palestinian village of Sur Baher.

Read a QuickTake on why the U.S. embassy move is such a controversy

The opening also comes amid heightened tensions across the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forces have stepped up attacks on Iranian targets in neighboring Syria over the past week, after saying Tehran-backed troops there targeted Israel with a missile barrage. Iranian officials rejected that accusation and are fuming about Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and five other world powers.



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