Most foreign envoys absent as Israel, US launch embassy festivities

Monday, 2018-05-14 06:02:18
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People walk near the compound of the US consulate in Jerusalem, which will host the new US embassy, as posters praising the US president hang in the street. (Photo: Arab News via AFP).
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Israel launched celebrations on May 13 for the US Embassy's relocation to Jerusalem, a move whose break with world consensus was underscored by the absence of most envoys to the country from a reception hosted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Monday (May 14)'s slated opening of the new embassy follows US President Donald Trump's recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision he said fulfilled decades of policy pledges in Washington and formalised realities on the ground.

The Palestinians, who want their own future state with its capital in east Jerusalem, have been outraged by Trump's shift from previous administrations' preference for keeping the US Embassy in Tel Aviv pending progress in peace efforts.

Those talks have been frozen since 2014. Other major powers worry that the US move could inflame Palestinian unrest in the occupied West Bank and on the Gaza Strip border, where Israel reinforced troops in anticipation of the embassy opening.

Most countries say Jerusalem's status should be determined in a final peace settlement, and say moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Israel said all 86 countries with diplomatic missions in Israel were invited to the event, and 33 confirmed attendance.

Attending the Foreign Ministry gathering were representatives from Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic, but none from western European Union states - suggesting a rift within the bloc over Trump's Jerusalem move.

The EU mission in Israel tweeted on May 11 that the bloc would "respect the international consensus on Jerusalem ... including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved".

The Palestinians plan to demonstrate against Monday's inauguration from Arab districts abutting the Jerusalem site.

Reuters