- In Historic Move, U.S. Opens Embassy in Jerusalem
- Violence Escalates as Hamas Urges Rioters to Tear Down Border Fence with Israel
- Legal Scholar: U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem Erases "Illiberal" Standard Imposed on Israel
- Next Year in Jerusalem: Israeli Singer Netta Barzilai Wins Eurovision with "Toy"
In Historic Move, U.S. Opens Embassy in Jerusalem
In a historic move, the United States embassy in Jerusalem was formally inaugurated at a ceremony held today, May 14th, the secular anniversary of Israel’s founding 70 years ago. The new embassy is located in the city’s Arnona neighborhood, in the facility that had heretofore served as the U.S. Consulate.
About 800 guests attended the ceremony. The U.S. was represented by a formally designated “Presidential Delegation” led by Deputy Secretary of State, John. J. Sullivan, and including U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s lead negotiator. A bicameral Congressional delegation and other U.S. dignitaries were also present for the ceremony, which was also attended by top diplomats from 33 other nations.
In a video message, U.S. President Donald Trump called this “a great day for Israel”, saying: “Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right like any other sovereign nation to designate its capital.” The President continued by stressing America’s continuing quest for peace.
In his remarks, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin thanked American leaders for making the move possible. “The American Congress has, for many years now, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And I want to thank the many members of the Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, for their love and support for Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanked the U.S. President, calling this “a great day for Israel” and “a great day for America.” He echoed the President’s sentiment, saying “I believe it’s also a great day for peace. You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state.”
The opening of the new embassy was greeted with bipartisan support in the U.S.
Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, issued a statement backing the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem: “In a long-overdue move, we have moved our Embassy to Jerusalem. Every nation should have the right to choose its capital,” he said. “I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif, stated:“Seventy years ago today, the United States was first to recognize Israel as an independent state. On this important anniversary, it’s fitting that the U.S. finally open an embassy in Israel’s self-determined capital. A bipartisan majority in Congress has been calling for this important action since the 1990s.”
Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also welcomed the move and stressed the need for an active peace process. “I will do everything in my power to support” the construction of a permanent embassy. He added that he looked “forward to hearing what the administration’s plan is to bring the parties together to work toward two states for two peoples.”
For full coverage of the Embassy relocation, please click here to read TIP Backgrounder: U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem Based in Law, Rejects Threats of Violence
Violence Escalates as Hamas Urges Rioters to Tear Down Border Fence with Israel
Violence near the Gaza border with Israel escalated as 50,000 Gazans participated in violent Hamas-led riots, The Times of Israel reported Monday.
The violence was driven as Hamas urged Gazans to attempt to tear down the border fence with Israel. Hamas, on Facebook, urged rioters to breach the fence in order to cross into Israel and kidnap Israelis.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that 52 people were killed. The IDF said that three of those killed were attempting to plant explosives at the border fence. The army also said that Israeli planes struck Hamas targets in Gaza after IDF soldiers were fired upon in two separate incidents.
A news report on Hadashot TV, said that Hamas was urging Gazans to participate in the riots and assuring them that those killed would be assured of a place in paradise.
According to Israeli intelligence, Hamas gunmen stayed away from the border fence, waiting for possible breach, which would give them an opportunity to enter Israel and carry out terror attacks.
The IDF said that families were offered stipends of $100, funded by Iran, to attempt to breach the border fence. Those who did not participate in the riots were threatened. "Hamas is coercing Gazans to risk their lives," the IDF charged.
The New York Times reported, "At 5:30 p.m., shortly after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, organizers who had been urging people toward the fence all day suddenly began shooing them away, and the day’s action quickly subsided."
Legal Scholar: U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem Erases "Illiberal" Standard Imposed on Israel
The move of the United States embassy to a Jerusalem complex, most of which is "is located on the far side of the armistice line" that divided the city between 1949 and 1967, shows that the United States accepts Israel contention that its capital city should be undivided, Eugene Kontorovich wrote in an op-ed published Sunday in The Wall Street Journal.
The move of the embassy shows, not only that the U.S. accepts Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but accepts Israel's contention, in line with "bipartisan calls from Congress," that its capital is unified.
The division between so-called "West" and "East" Jerusalem, Kontrovich, a professor at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, explained, has its origin in a "unique demand" made of Israel.
Following the capture by Israel of the sections of Jerusalem that had been occupied by Jordan at the time Israel's founding, the international community demanded that Israel "had to keep the areas under its control, including East Jerusalem and the Old City, free of Jewish inhabitants."
But this imbued the 1949 armistice lines, which are temporary, with a degree of permanence. The establishment of the "Green Line" as a border beyond which Jews would not be allowed to settle, Kontorovich wrote, was both "unique and illiberal."
By ignoring the armistice line with the embassy move, the U.S. has shown "that it attaches no legal significance to this outdated demarcation." It means that the U.S. accepts Israeli control over its whole capital including the Old City.
Next Year in Jerusalem: Israeli Singer Netta Barzilai Wins Eurovision with "Toy"
Throughout her 25 years of life, Netta Barzilai was told over and over that she wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or skinny enough to accomplish what she wanted in life. Last night she proved them all wrong.
Smart, sassy, zaftig Barzilai did Israel proud, winning the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon as the representative of her country.
This was the first time Israel has won the competition in 20 years.
“Mazal tov, Israel!” shouted Eurovision officials at the post-contest press conference honoring Barzilai for her winning song “Toy,” co-written by Doron Medalie and Stav Beger.
Long favored by the Eurovision betting charts, and a serious fan favorite, “Toy” has become an international hit for its #MeToo theme.
The refrain, “I’m not your toy, you stupid boy” sends a serious message about sexual harassment while quirky clucking noises and dance moves keep the song lighthearted and fun.
And the line “Wonder Woman don’t you ever forget, you’re divine and he’s about to regret” reminds listeners about another favorite female Israeli role model, movie star Gal Gadot.
Her experience has given her plenty of poise onstage. She even kept her cool after the Eurovision contest when her trophy broke.
Nevertheless, the victory had her overcome with emotion.
“I’m so happy. Thank you so much for choosing difference. Thank you so much for accepting differences between us. Thank you for celebrating diversity. Thank you. I love my country. Next time in Jerusalem,” Barzilai said in her moment of triumph.