Israel kicks off US Embassy celebration, boosts border force

Israelis wave their national flags during a march next to the Western Wall

Israelis wave their national flags during a march next to the Western Wall

The Department of State has announced that the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem will be dedicated today, May 14, 2018.

The timing of the embassy move has led to concerns about increased tension in Gaza. Now, Guatemala, which moved to the Tel Aviv area in 1980, when Israel passed a law formalizing the unification of Jerusalem and effectively annexing the eastern part, is relocating to Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The Security Council has huffed and puffed about so-called "illegal" Israeli settlements including in East Jerusalem and called upon member states to withdraw their embassies from Jerusalem, but did so exclusively in the form of completely non-binding resolutions.

Monday's slated opening of the new embassy follows US President Donald Trump's recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision he said fulfilled decades of policy pledges in Washington and formalized realities on the ground.

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Top US officials will attend the event, including President Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Various countries once had embassies based in Jerusalem - but many moved after a 1980 law saw the country explicitly claim the city's east, despite United Nations objections. Israel is marking the 51tst anniversary of its capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. The US consulate in the city, tasked with handling Palestinian ties, will remain.

Ambassador David Friedman, who will preside over Monday's dedication ceremony, told reporters, "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".

"We are fighting for justice, we are fighting for freedom, we are fighting for peace to our people, and we will not give up until we achieve these things", he said.

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While Netanyahu enthusiastically greeted Trump's decision to move the embassy, some Jerusalem residents have gone to court to try to stop it.

And Jerusalem premier league football club Beitar Jerusalem said it was renaming itself "Beitar Trump Jerusalem". "You deserve a better future", the leaflets said.

A delegation from the White House and Israeli officials will gather for the inauguration ceremony in the afternoon, while large numbers of Palestinians are expected to protest along the Gaza border with Israel and elsewhere. Forty-two Palestinians have been killed and over 1,800 have been wounded by Israeli fire since weekly protests began on March 30.

Israel says it is protecting a sovereign border and accuses Hamas of using the unrest to plan and carry out attacks.

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Jordan, the custodian of the site, sent a letter of protest to Israel condemning this as a "provocation by extremists", a spokesman said.

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