US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, have arrived in Israel ahead of the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. The couple – both senior White House advisers – will attend the ceremony.
The first daughter was pictured hoping off a plane at Ben-Gurion airport on Jerusalem Day, an Israeli national holiday marking the 51st anniversary of the city’s reunification following the 1967 war.
“Honored to have arrived in Israel on such a meaningful day,” Trump posted to her Instagram story Sunday.
The official U.S. delegation is headed by Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and also includes Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and 12 members of Congress. Mr Trump himself will not be there.
Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state. The decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem angered Palestinians.
Mr Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with decades of US neutrality on the issue and put it out of step with most of the international community.
Monday afternoon’s dedication ceremony will be held in the U.S. Consulate building in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood – which will then officially become the embassy.
President Trump’s December decision to pluck the embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ignited months of protest in Palestinian territories and more protests are expected Monday along the Israel-Gaza border.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have led the protests and indicated they may try to breach the border with Israel. “We support peaceful protests — but the key word here is peaceful. In Gaza there are many, many people protesting peacefully, but others flying kites with swastikas and setting fires,” White House foreign policy adviser Victoria Coates said Friday.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said it was too early to gauge what the reaction and repercussions of the move would be. “There are people who are happy with the decision and people who are unhappy, but it’s far too early to measure reactions,” he said. ”We are convinced this decision creates a platform and an opportunity to promote a peace process based on realities, not fantasies. We’re sure it will create greater stability in the long run.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would be celebrating Trump’s decision.
“President Trump promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and he did so. He promised to move the American Embassy to Israel and he is doing so. Of course, we will all celebrate this day, a real celebration, tomorrow,” he said at a weekly Cabinet meeting.