'There's No Free Lunch': Israeli Defense Chief on 'Price' of US Embassy Transfer

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The opening day of the US Embassy in Jerusalem approaches; the relocation of the facility has provoked violence among the Palestinians and condemnation from throughout the Arab world; Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warns that the move "will come at a price." However, it’s still unclear if Donald Trump is to attend the celebration on May 14.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, talking on Israel Television News Company, commented on the upcoming relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem with a looming warning.

"Nothing comes for free and the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will come at a price and it is worth paying it. We should be prepared to pay a price," the official said.

He stressed that the relocation will be "historic, important and dramatic" move. The opening ceremony is scheduled for May 14th, when Israel will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Jewish State. May 15 is a day on which Palestinians commemorate those who were forced to flee their homes by the Israelis.

According to the Haaretz report, the US delegation to the upcoming opening will be led by Trump's senior adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the President’s daughter Ivanka, as well as by Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Trump revealed on April 27 during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angelar Merkel, that he still "may go." He also took particular pride in cutting money costs for the move, as he replaced his initial proposal to devote $1 billion for a new embassy with a more moderate plan worth $400,000.

The Embassy will be located in a now consular facility in Jerusalem. At first, only US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and several staffers will work there. However, according to the State Department, the new permanent is yet to be found.

READ MORE: Desolate Location and Nursing Home: Possible Sites of US Embassy in Jerusalem

The big announcement by Donald Trump about the relocation came in December 2017. The Trump Administration recognizes the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although the city is one of the cornerstones of the decades-long standoff between Israelis and Palestinians over sovereignty and borders. While Israelis took full control of the city during the Six-Day War in 1967 and later declared it the capital of Israel, Palestinians are seeking to make East Jerusalem the capital of their own independent state.

Following the announcement, the UN General Assembly called on UN members with a resolution to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. However, several countries followed the US example, as Guatemala and Honduras have revealed plans to move their missions from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Later, the Times of Israel reported that the Israeli government put pressure on the Czech Republic to consider the possibility of pursuing the scheme.

The US actions have also sparked controversy in the Muslim world. The countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) harshly criticized the move during a summit, hosted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shortly after the announcement.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has denied the US the role of a mediator in the settlement of the conflict with Israel, rejecting the so-called "deal of the century," which is reportedly being prepared by the US president.

 

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