A toast was raised at the US embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday. Dignitaries present, including US Ambassador David Friedman, said that it was a farewell to the old building in Tel Aviv.
Friedman, who briefed reporters, said that the administration was very excited about the opening of the embassy on Monday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona. "On Monday, people will be coming back to work as the embassy branch of the Jerusalem embassy," he said of the Tel Aviv building.
In the first stage, starting Monday, about 50 staff will work from the offices in Arnona, including the consular department. Later, at a reasonable pace, more departments will move to Jerusalem. At the end of the process, which will take years and include construction of a permanent building in Jerusalem, the entire US embassy will be managed from the capital city. The ambassador's residence will remain in Herzliya at this stage, but when he holds work meetings in Jerusalem, he will not have to rent rooms in the King David Hotel; he will be able to hold them in the embassy's temporary building that will be opened on Monday.
800 people were invited to the opening ceremony, and President Donald Trump will deliver a speech by video to those present. The US delegation includes Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter; Jared Kushner, his son-in-law; US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt; and a large number of senators and Congressmen.
As far as is known, none of them plans to meet with senior Palestinian Authority officials. On Sunday, a celebratory toast is taking place in the US State Department building in Jerusalem, to which dozens of foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel have been invited, 35 of whom have already confirmed their attendance, not including European countries that object to the US measure.
The US administration is proud that the embassy will be opened sooner than expected. "And we are extremely proud of the fact that we have been able to open the embassy, as the President likes to say, ahead of schedule and under budget," Friedman said.
During the press briefing in advance of Monday's event, Friedman emphasized that the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem was above all a US interest, and was not part of any negotiations or quid pro quo for any Israel step whatsoever.
As for the balance of power in the Middle East, a senior administration figure stressed that although some were not happy about the moving of the embassy, "It is still too early to measure the responses around the Middle East. In the long term, we are confident that peaceful relations should be instituted on the basis of the actual situation, not fantasy," he said. In Washington, attention is being drawn to the tweet by the Bahrain foreign minister concerning Israel's right to defend itself as a positive sign concerning relations with Israel. "This is a change that has been occurring for years. The statement by the foreign minister of Bahrain is very important, coming as it does a few days before the transfer of the embassy," he said.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 13, 2018
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