Published: Sat, February 24, 2018
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

GOP mega-donor Adelson offers to pay for part of Jerusalem embassy

GOP mega-donor Adelson offers to pay for part of Jerusalem embassy

Accelerating controversial plans, the Trump administration will open a small U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence, a State Department official said Friday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed off on the security plan for the new embassy on Thursday.

State Department officials are now examining the possibility of accepting funds for all or most of the planned embassy from Adelson, four officials told the AP.

The decision sparked a furious reaction from Palestinians, who object to the U.S. recognition of the disputed city as Israel's capital and call May 14 - which in 2018 marks 70 years since Israel's declaration of independence - Naqba, their "day of catastrophe".

Last month, senior officials told The New York Times the move could happen as soon as 2019, despite the administration originally planning not to rush the transition.

The relocation date announced on February 23 is sooner than had originally been suggested by USA officials.

The embassy move is expected to complicate efforts to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians - and jeopardise the traditional, if disputed, USA role as an "honest broker" in efforts to resolve one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

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U.S. President Donald Trump announced last December that the United States recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, infuriating even Washington's Arab allies and dismaying Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as their capital.

"Come May, we're moving the ambassador and a small team to Arnona", the official said, referring to the Jerusalem district that is home to a compound now used for United States consular operations.

The PLO official said the USA decision clearly contradicts worldwide law and consensus on the legal status of Jerusalem.

Israel proclaimed independence on May 14, 1948. "It's the right thing to do".

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.

In a speech Friday to the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, Trump recalled his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital.

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