JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Donald Trump for his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in May, to coincide with Israel’s Independence Day.
“This is a great moment for the citizens of Israel and this is an historic moment for the State of Israel. We will celebrate it together, all citizens of Israel. This will have significant and historic long-range implications,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting
He added: “On behalf of the entire government and people, I would like to thank President Trump for both his leadership and his friendship. President Trump, you are a great friend of the State of Israel and we all thank you.”
Netanyahu had issued a statement of thanks on Saturday night, including in a YouTube video.
Netanyahu reportedly plans to invite Trump to Israel in May for the inauguration of the new embassy,
A U.S. State Department spokesman told JTA that the Jerusalem Embassy initially will be housed in the southern Jerusalem building in Arnona neighborhood, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General of Jerusalem.
The Foreign Ministry of the Palestinian Authority in a statement on Saturday called the announcement of the imminent move of the embassy to Jerusalem an “aggression” and “offensive to the feelings of Arabs and Muslims.”
The statement, the official Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency reported, said that the decision “is a direct aggression against the Palestinian people and their just and legitimate national rights, while at the same time rewarding the occupation for its violations and crimes, especially as it coincides with the anniversary of the Nakba that afflicted the Palestinian people and is still ongoing, and encouraging it to continue to destroy any chance for peace based on a two-state solution.”
The Nakba, which means “the catastrophe,” is commemorated each year on May 15, the date on the Gregorian calendar when Israel was declared a state. The new embassy is slated to be dedicated on or near that date.
The PA statement said that the Trump administration has “lost any credibility to talk about efforts to bring peace and resume negotiations.”
A spokesman for Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit told Wafa: “The US decision to move its embassy [n Israel to Jerusalem on the Nakba anniversary reveals the full bias [of the US] towards Israel. This annuls the capacity required for the US to sponsor a peaceful process leading to a just and lasting solution to the conflict.”
“The Arab countries are determined to address all the negative consequences of this resolution and to ensure that no other country makes a similar move in the future so the US move would always be isolated,” he also said.
A Hamas spokesman called the move “provocative,” Iran’s Press TV reported. He warned “a tremendous explosion in the Middle East region, which will target the occupying Israeli regime. We are calling on all Muslim nations to confront Israel and to stop such decisions.”