At official Jerusalem Day event, president thanks Trump for his 'brave step' of moving US embassy to city, predicts other countries will follow suit
President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the official ceremony marking Jerusalem Day at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on May 13, 2018. (Screen capture: Ynet)
President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday hailed his US counterpart Donald Trump for moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying the move would cause other countries to shed their reluctance on moving their embassies to the city.
“Following [the US] the embassies of other countries will also move to our capital Jerusalem. The diplomatic blockade has been broken and will be broken,” he said at the official event at Ammunition Hill marking Jerusalem Day.
Jerusalem Day, which came a day before Monday’s inauguration of the US embassy, marks the reunification of the city after Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.
Rivlin thanked Trump for his “brave step” of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while calling the US “our oldest friend.”
At a Foreign Ministry reception earlier celebrating the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump was making history by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called on world leaders to follow Washington’s lead and bring their missions to the Israeli capital.
Thanking the US delegation in Jerusalem for the embassy opening, set for the following day, Netanyahu said, “There are no greater supporters of Israel on the face of the earth.”
He added: “Tomorrow will be a historic day for our people and for our state. President Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem affirms a great and simple truth: Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past three thousand years. It’s been the capital of our state for the past 70 years. It will remain our capital for all time.”
Netanyahu went on to explain why he believes other nations should also bring their embassies to Jerusalem, urging them: “Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it’s the right thing to do. And move your embassies to Jerusalem… because it advances peace, and that’s because you can’t base peace on a foundation of lies. You base peace on the foundations of truth. And the truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia and the capital of our state from its inception. The truth is that under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital.”
In greeting the delegation, headed by US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Netanyahu also gave a “special welcome to Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka. I have known Jared for 25 years. There’s a special bond between our families.”
The Foreign Ministry invited 86 foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel to the event, a day before the official move. About 40 of them announced their participation, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Saturday, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary, four countries which broke with a European consensus against participating.
Netanyahu also thanked the governments of Guatemala and Paraguay for choosing to move their embassies to Jerusalem, and added that others will follow as well, but “we won’t say who because that’s a state secret.”
Some 800 guests are expected to attend Monday’s embassy inauguration. Representing the US at the opening will be Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Sullivan, Mnuchin, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. US Ambassador David Friedman will preside over the dedication ceremony.
The prime minister presented Friedman with a framed version of Trump’s presidential order announcing the recognition Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the US Embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
The development delighted the Israeli government, but angered Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Most European countries have slammed Trump’s move as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until the status of Jerusalem is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.