Israel Praises, Palestinians Condemn Date of US Embassy Move

Thousands protest against Israel's plans to deport African migrants

Washington announced on Friday that it would move its embassy on May 14, to coincide with the day the state of Israel was established and officially recognised by the USA administration in 1948.

The new embassy will be initially located in a U.S. consular building in Jerusalem's Arnona neighbourhood while Washington searches for a permanent location, "the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The date chosen by Trmp's administration to open its embassy in Jerusalem also coincides with the Naqba, the Palestinian "day of catastrophe".

"This will have significant and historic long-range implications", Netanyahu said. U.S. vice president Mike Pence had said previously the embassy would open by the end of 2019, while Mr Tillerson had said it could take years.

There's no doubt that the government will turn the occasion into a giant event, even though in practice it merely means carving out office space for the ambassador and a small staff in the U.S. Consulate building in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood.

The decision "is a direct aggression against the Palestinian people and their just and legitimate national rights, while at the same time rewarding the occupation for its violations and crimes, especially as it coincides with the anniversary of the Nakba ['catastrophe' in Arabic, referring to Israel's independence] that afflicted the Palestinian people and is still ongoing, and encouraging it to continue to destroy any chance for peace based on a two-state solution", the statement continued.

Much to the chagrin of the Palestinian Authority, US President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he'd be accelerating the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a move never recognized by the global community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980 claiming it as its "eternal and undivided" capital.

"Moving the USA embassy to Jerusalem is a violation of the global law and goes against the worldwide conventions", Hamas Spokesman Abdul-Latif al-Qanou said in a statement. The move drew near global condemnation, enraged the Palestinians and sparked days of unrest in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

The PLO immediately decried Washington's embassy announcement as a "provocation to all Arabs".

Trump, speaking at the White House on Friday alongside visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, reiterated a claim he has made that his administration is making "great progress" on promoting peace in the Middle East.

Trump has promised the "ultimate deal", a final agreement on Israeli-Palestinian peace, and placed the negotiations under the direction of his 37-year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

While the Palestinians want a new global mechanism to shepherd peace talks, the details of the Trump plan and its timing are still unclear.

"In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, we need to choose the most hard of all trades" - he said at a press conference in Washington.

"The Arab countries are determined to address all the negative consequences of this resolution and to ensure that no other country makes a similar move in the future, so the USA move would always be isolated", he stated. The sentiment echoes those of Palestinian government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud on Saturday, who said it "constituted a clear and explicit violation of United Nations resolutions and all humanitarian and global laws".

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