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Ceremonies Held In Israel Ahead Of Opening Of New U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem

May 13, 2018 - 12:49 pm

JERUSALEM (1010 WINS/AP) -- Ceremonies were being held Sunday in Israel ahead of the official opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

The move has ignited Palestinian protests.

With American officials looking on, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised President Donald Trump's ``bold decision'' to move the American Embassy to contested Jerusalem.

Netanyahu welcomed an American delegation, led by Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, at a celebration in Israel's Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday evening. The new embassy is to open on Monday.

Dozens of foreign diplomats had been expected to attend, though many ambassadors of European nations who oppose the move skipped it.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and view the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv as a blatantly one-sided move that invalidates the U.S. as a Mideast peace broker.

But Netanyahu insisted the embassy move is ``the right thing to do'' and ordered other countries to follow suit.

As 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported, the choice to move the embassy is a hot-button issue in the U.S. too. Lawrence from the East Side agrees from the move.

“Jerusalem is the center of Israel and the culture of Israel,” he said.

But with the Palestinians laying claim to east Jerusalem, many, including a man named Jim, said it is the wrong move at the wrong time.

“I thought it was pushing it a little bit to put it there,” he said. “I think there’s better ways of obtaining peace in the east.”

Another person said it is not the smartest move, but he said President Trump has done a lot of things that are not the smartest moves.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking delegation of Gaza's Hamas rulers headed to Egypt Sunday, ahead of a planned massive rally at the Israel-Gaza border.

The media office at the Rafah crossing point says Sunday the Islamic militant group's chief Ismail Haniyeh and other members crossed into Egypt in the morning.

Hamas declined to comment on the departure, which is believed to be part of intensive diplomacy to contain the protest and prevent a possible breach of Israel's border.

Last week, Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yehiyeh Sinwar, said international and regional mediators have come up with offers ``to control'' weeks of deadly protests. Hamas has organized them mostly against an Israeli-Egyptian blockade in place since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007.

Gaza health facilities are preparing for mass casualties ahead of the rally

Shifa hospital spokesman Ayman Sahbani said Sunday that tents with medical equipment are being set up outside the facility to ease pressure on its 20-bed emergency ward.

He warned that the hospital, Gaza's biggest, will quickly ``run out of medicine'' and other items if it operates at full capacity.

He said Shifa has been badly affected by a decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group Hamas assumed control of Gaza.

Since late March, 42 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire and over 1,700 other wounded in border unrest.

Tens of thousands could try and burst through into Israel at protests this week.

Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and its nearby communities.

(© 2018 1010 WINS. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)