The American embassy in Israel is now in Jerusalem. The move recognizes Jerusalem as the true capital of the Jewish state and the fulfillment of a long-standing promise from several U.S. presidents.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Donald Trump for “making history by recognizing history” at a ceremony dedicating the new U.S. Jerusalem embassy, while President Reuven Rivlin thanked the U.S. president for “keeping his promise.”
“What a glorious day,” Netanyahu told the crowd at the new embassy building in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona. “Remember this moment, this is history.”
“Today, the embassy of the most powerful country on earth, our friend and ally, the United States of America, opens in Jerusalem,” he exclaimed.
The move comes five months after Trump announced that the U.S. embassy would shift from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The new diplomatic office, in what was an existing U.S. consular building, was opened in a ceremony led by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and attended by Israeli and American officials.
“This is a good day for peace too. You can only build peace upon truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years,” he said. “May the opening of this embassy spread the truth far and wide.”
Violence welcomes Jerusalem embassy
The day was also marked by violence, with dozens of Palestinians killed and more than 1,600 injured in protests at the Gaza border against the embassy move, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.
Several thousand people gathered in the center of Ramallah, while hundreds marched to the Qalandiya crossing on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where protesters threw stones at Israeli troops.
The protests were not limited to the border. More than 500 demonstrators rallied near the ceremony clashed with Israeli forces, and police made at least one arrest. Demonstrators chanted “Jerusalem is ours!”
Palestinians have long hoped to create a capital for themselves in the city’s eastern sector. But Israeli and U.S. officials were determined not to let the violence diminish the embassy celebration.
Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, acknowledged the violence in his speech.
“As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” Kushner said.
Pastor John Hagee prayed to “our most gracious heavenly Father, God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, God who calls the stars by name” to dedicate the new embassy.
“We thank you for the state of Israel, the lone torch of freedom in the Middle East, who lives and prospers because of your everlasting love for the Jewish people,” Hagee prayed.
“Jerusalem is the city of God, Jerusalem is the heartbeat of Israel, Jerusalem is where Abraham placed his son on the altar,” he continued. “Jerusalem is where Messiah will come and establish a kingdom that will never end.”
“Let the word go forth today that Israel lives,” Hagee said, “because he that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”
Practically speaking, little will change with Monday’s formal move. The U.S. consular compound in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona will become the temporary embassy, with Friedman and a small staff moving to the Arnona site.
But most of the 850 embassy workers in Tel Aviv will not move until a new embassy is built, which could take a decade to complete.