The United States yesterday (14 May) opened its relocated embassy in Jerusalem to fulfill the promise of Donald Trump to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite fierce criticism from European and Arab leaders. Critics are worried that the decision will only dial up tensions and hamper any future peace negotiations. Palestinians are now refusing to meet the Trump administration, saying they do not see the United States as the main broker of peace negotiations anymore.
In defiance to this reaction, the White House said it would move forward with its still-secret road map to secure what Donald Trump called “the ultimate deal” for the Middle East peace process. “The peace process is most decidedly not dead,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented, adding that “we’re hard at work on it. We hope we can achieve a successful outcome there as well.” Washington claims that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is only recognizing the reality on the ground. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is located in Jerusalem but the international community doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The opening gala of the event was boycotted by most European Union ambassadors in Israel. About 30 of the 86 ambassadors in Israel accepted the invitation to the Foreign Ministry but only four EU countries took part in the ceremony – Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria and Romania. European foreign ministries slammed the embassy relocation saying the decision violates international law and is overall unwise. The embassy move did not initially spark much violence but it has now triggered protests in the Gaza Strip where as many as 61 Palestinians have died in clashes with Israeli armed forces.