Seventy years after the US recognized Israel, Washington moved its embassy to Jerusalem. The opening ceremony, attended by several senior White House officials and Israeli politicians, started at 4:00 PM.

Jerusalem in red-blue-and-white

Jerusalem in red-blue-and-white Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The American embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated at its interim location today (Monday) at 4:00 PM (local time) with a special ceremony attended by senior Israeli and US officials.

The first to speak at the ceremony was US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. The senior American envoy noted that the US was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948 and that again today, Washington is leading the way in moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s one and only capital.

US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said during his speech that the embassy in Jerusalem will be “a magnificent tribute to peace- that’s what we are celebrating here today.” Sullivan also said that the transfer of the embassy, as Trump noted in December, is simply “recognizing reality.”

While US President Donald Trump did not attend the ceremony, he recorded a special message that was played during the ceremony. “Today we officially open the United States embassy in Jerusalem—Congratulations! It’s been a long-time coming,” he told the audience.

“I’m so proud to be here today in Jerusalem—the eternal heart of the Jewish people,” Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said as he addressed the audience. “By moving the embassy to Jerusalem, we have shown the world that the United States can be trusted…and will do what’s right, as so we have. Israel’s a sovereign nation with the right to determine its own capital.”

Kushner said that the path to peace “will not be an easy road” but that he believes that the embassy move is a step on that path. “I’m confident that as a result [of the move], our nations will be stronger,” he added.

Watch: The ceremony in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the event: “What a glorious day—remember this moment! This is history. President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history! All of us are deeply moved. All of us are deeply grateful!…This is a big day for Jerusalem, a big day for Israel!”

“Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to keep your promises,” he added.  

The White House sent a high-level delegation to Jerusalem for the event. The delegation, headed by Sullivan, landed in Israel on Sunday afternoon. Representing the First Family are Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Kushner, both of whom are Jewish and hold official positions in the White House. The delegation also includes US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

Dozens of foreign diplomats attended the opening ceremony. According to the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry, a total of 86 foreign diplomats were invited to the ceremony. Among the 33 foreign representatives who attended are the ambassadors from Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Paraguay, Guatemala and Honduras.

The seal of the US embassy in Jerusalem

The seal of the US embassy in Jerusalem Photo Credit: Live screenshot

From Europe, representatives from several countries—including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria—attended even though the European Union has publicly condemned the American decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem. Germany, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Mexico and Egypt are among the 10 countries that declined the invitation.

Last night, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry held a gala event in Jerusalem in honor of the delegation. During the event, Netanyahu thanked Trump for his “bold decision” and urged the leaders of other countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem as well.

“I call on all countries to join the US in moving their embassies to Jerusalem. Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it’s the right thing to do,” he stated. “Move your embassies to Jerusalem because it advances peace, and that’s because you can’t base peace on a foundation of lies. You base peace on the foundations of truth, and the truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia and the capital of our state from its inception, the truth is that under any peace agreement you could possibly imagine, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital.”