The United States will today, open its new embassy in Jerusalem. The plan was brought forward to coincide with the state of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
A small interim embassy will open inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem on Monday, while a larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy moves from Tel Aviv.
President Trump is expected to address attendees at Monday’s event via video link.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be there in person, alongside Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Condemnation, protests and outrage have trailed Trump’s decision to open US Embassy in Jerusalem.
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.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has described it as the “slap of the century.” But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the embassy move was a reason for celebration.
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 European Union has voiced strong objections to the embassy move, and most EU ambassadors in Israel will be boycotting the event.
However, dozens of other foreign diplomats are expected, including representatives from Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic – countries which reportedly blocked a joint EU statement on the issue.
The presidents of Guatemala and Paraguay are also set to attend; both countries decided to move their embassies to Jerusalem after Mr Trump made his announcement.
The timing of the events has led to concerns about increased tension in Gaza.
Since the end of March, more than 40 Palestinians have been killed in protests at the border.
The day after Israel marks its anniversary, Palestinians commemorate what they refer to as the “Nakba” or Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of their people fled their homes or were displaced following the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948.
Organisers call the rolling protests the Great March of Return, which is set to culminate on 15 May for Nakba.
The UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein criticised Israel for using what he called “excessive force”; Israel maintains it has acted legitimately to protect its civilians from militants trying to breach the border.
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