Embassy Move & Jerusalem Facts
Today May 14th marked the 70th anniversary of Israeli independence and the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
The embassy move — which Jewish Federations have lobbied in support of for two decades — reflects a bipartisan effort that has enjoyed cross-party political support in the United States and Israel for decades. Israel and the United States enjoy a deep friendship that is centered on the shared values of peace, democracy, freedom and progress.
Israel, like any other nation, has the right to choose its capital. Israel’s historic ties to Jerusalem date back over 3,000 years.
Jerusalem has, in reality, been Israel’s capital and seat of government since 1949. The President’s Residence, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s Office and most Israeli government ministries are located in the city.
In remarks made today at the Embassy by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President, reiterated the U.S. position that the embassy move does not reflect a change in position on final status negotiations regarding Jerusalem.
The U.S. supports two states for two peoples.
The new embassy is located at an existing consular building in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem. (see attached fact sheet for location information)
The Trump administration repeated its support for the peace process. In his speech announcing the move, President Donald Trump said: “The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.”
Jerusalem was reunited by Israel in 1967 (on May 13 we celebrated the unification on Yom Yerushalayim) and is today a vibrant cultural and spiritual center that celebrates its diversity and welcomes visitors of all faiths from around the globe.
Since reunification, for the first time in modern history, Muslims, Christians and Jews are free to worship in Jerusalem at their holy sites. There are over 100 synagogues, 50 churches and over 33 mosques operating freely in Jerusalem.
There are some 524,700 Jews, 307,300 Muslims, and 12,400 Christians living in Jerusalem.
All holy places are protected by Israeli law (1967), which reads in part: The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.
There was controversy surrounding one of the speakers at the Embassy opening invited by the Trump administration. Pastor Robert Jeffress, who led a prayer at the opening, has in the past made derogatory comments towards other religious groups, including Jews.
History of U.S. Embassy & Jerusalem
20 years ago, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. It has subsequently been reinforced in multiple bipartisan motions — most recently in summer of 2017. Republicans and Democrats, in the House, the Senate and the White House, have long supported the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem Embassy Act, November 1995, reads: “Statement of the Policy of the United States: (1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected. (2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
Res.176 — a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, June 2017:, reads: “The Senate… reaffirms the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 as United States law, and calls upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions.”
In December 2017, President Trump said, “We finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital… I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
In October 2017, Senator Charles Schumer, Senate Democratic leader, said, “Moving the embassy as soon as possible would appropriately commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification and show the world that the US definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
Jewish Connection to Jerusalem
Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back some 3,000 years.
Archeological findings provide evidence of the ancient Jewish kingdoms. For example, a royal seal excavated in the Old City of Jerusalem dates back to the 8th century BCE and confirms the existence of the Jewish King Hezekiah of Jerusalem, as mentioned in the Bible.
The holiest sites of Judaism are located in the Old City of Jerusalem: The Temple Mount, where the ancient Jewish Temples stood, and the Western Wall, which is the surviving section of the Second Temple compound.
Jews are indigenous to the city and to the broader region. For some 3,000 years, Jews have inhabited Jerusalem almost continuously and, in the modern era, Jews became the majority ethnic group in the mid-1800s.
Jews in the Diaspora, who were expelled from the Land of Israel throughout the centuries, have longed to return to Jerusalem. This longing is a central theme of Jewish liturgy, holidays and customs, as expressed in the ancient prayer "Next year in Jerusalem." Jews all over the world always pray in the direction of Jerusalem.
A spokesperson for Mahmood Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, said Monday that “with this step, the U.S. administration has cancelled its role in the peace process and has insulted the world, the Palestinian people and the Arab and the Islamic nation and it has created incitement and instability”.
Abbas has said that the Palestinians will not enter US-led negotiations “in any way, shape or form.”
Abbas convenes an emergency meeting in Ramallah after the embassy move, which he brands “a new occupation,” and an “assault on our sovereignty, an assault on our established rights,” according to a translation from Al-Jazeera.
Background: ‘Great Return March’ on the Gazan Border
Today’s action is part of the Gazan ‘Great Return March’ campaign, which kicked off in March of this year and is expected to continue through tomorrow — when it will reach its height.
The Hamas-sponsored protesters have increased their attacks on the border. Several Hamas agents have attempted — and in some cases, succeeded — in sabotaging the border fence and, in at least two cases, crossing the border into Israel. Many of these operatives subsequently attacked IDF troops with explosive devices, acts which resulted in the deaths and arrests of several Hamas agents. The IDF has called these attempts to cross the border “part of a broader effort by Hamas to give its terror efforts a civilian cover and turn the border fence area into a battle zone.”
There has also been an intensification of Hamas’s efforts to use human shields in their efforts, as exemplified by the hundreds of rioters who attacked the border fence in an attempt to burn it and enter Israel on Apr. 27. The rioters threw explosives, firebombs, and rocks. This prompted the IDF to open fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
In addition to throwing incendiary devices and rocks, terrorists on the border have been building hundreds of kites with tails meant to carry rags soaked in gasoline. Their plan, according to an article by the New York Times, “was to fly them in swarms into Israel with the aim of igniting the dry fields of the rural communities on the other side of the border fence.”
The Hamas protests are expected to peak on May 15, when Palestinians mark “Nakba Day,” the anniversary of Arab loss following Israel’s creation. This year the day is expected to be particularly tense, as Nakba Day falls one day after the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the day before the first Friday in Ramadan.
Hamas is exploiting civilian protestors — many of them young children and women — for the use of propaganda. Leaders are inciting the population, mostly concerned with improving its livelihood, against IDF troops. In the New York Times article cited above, a terrorist describes making 40 fire-starting kites with the help of his four children.
Hamas has created a press trap for the international media in which the terror group is in a win-win situation: if Israel allows the border to be overrun with those who will infiltrate into Israeli communities, Hamas wins. If Israel prevents this situation, however, and Gazan civilians die in the process, Hamas wins. This is the result of a regime that
holds its citizens hostage to its extreme terrorist ideologies and invests billions of dollars in terror infrastructure instead of its citizens’ well-being. The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called for a three-day general strike to mourn the Palestinians killed in Gaza, Channel 10 reports. Hamas called for an intifada.
Over 50 Palestinians were killed today on May 14, in the most violent of the riots along the Gaza border with Israel. An estimated 40,000 Palestinians participated in riots at 12 locations
On May 14, an IAF aircraft and an IDF tank targeted two additional military positions belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. These strikes were conducted in response to the incident in which IDF forces were fired upon.
According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an IAF fighter jet struck five terrorist targets in a Hamas military training facility in the northern Gaza Strip. The strike was conducted in response to the violent acts of the last few hours being carried out by Hamas along the security fence.
According to an IDF Spokesperson, IDF troops thwarted a terror attack in which three terrorists attempted to place an explosive device adjacent to the security fence in the Rafah area, where especially violent riots are taking place. In response, IDF troops fired at the terrorists, who were killed.
IAF aircraft targeted Hamas military posts near the Jabalia area after IDF forces were fired upon from the northern Gaza Strip. No IDF soldiers were injured in the incident.
The IDF operates with determination in order to prevent massive terror activities constantly being led by
Hamas in Gaza. Each act of terror will be met with a harsh response. The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, conducted a situation assessment with commanders of the Gaza Division regarding their security activities and possible developments.
40,000 Palestinians are currently partaking in violent riots in 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence.
The rioters are hurling firebombs and explosive devices at the security fence and at IDF troops. They are also burning tires, throwing rocks and launching flaming objects with
the intention of igniting fires in Israeli territory and harming IDF troops. IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means and fire, and are operating according to standard operating procedures.
The IDF is determined to fulfill its mission to protect Israeli sovereignty and Israeli civilians.
Footage depicting an IDF response to a terror cell’s attempt to infiltrate the security fence: http://videoidf.co.il/140518-CL-07.mp4
Footage depicting an IAF strike on a terror post belonging to the Hamas terror organization in response to shots being fired at IDF troops: http://videoidf.co.il/140518-CL-06.mp4
Footage depicting attempts to sabotage security infrastructure: http://videoidf.co.il/140518-CL-04.mp4
Photographs showing terrorists placing explosive devices adjacent to the security fence: http://app.activetrail.com/S/eiwix3detxt.htm
Photographs of violence taking place near the security fence: http://app.activetrail.com/S/eiwix3detxx.htm
Video documenting the violent riots: http://videoidf.co.il/140518-CL-02.mp4
Photographs from the situation assessment conducted by the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, with the Commanding Officer of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, and the Commanding Officer of the Gaza Division, Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, in addition to photographs from today's violent riots: http://app.activetrail.com/S/eiwix3d3aex.htm
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