‘US Embassy’ road signs went up in Jerusalem on Monday ahead of next week’s opening of the mission in the city.
The signs, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, were installed by workmen close to the south Jerusalem location of a US consulate building that will be repurposed as the embassy when it is officially relocated on May 14 from Tel Aviv, Reuters news agency reported.
In December, US President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel and launched the process to transfer his country’s embassy to the city.
The move prompted international condemnation and triggered a wave protest in the occupied Palestinian territories.
During his election campaign in 2016, Trump repeatedly promised to move the embassy and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
In June 2017, however, like his predecessors, Trump signed a six-month waiver to delay the relocation, which would have complicated US efforts to resume the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The White House said at the time that the question is “not if that move happens, but only when”.
The waiver expired on December 1.
Speaking to Israeli media in February, Trump reiterated that the issue of Jerusalem is off the negotiating table.
“By taking Jerusalem off the table I wanted to make it clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and as for specific boundaries, I would support what both sides agreed to,” Trump told newspaper Israel Hayom.
The international community, the Arab League and other groups urged the US president to reconsider.
“If US President Donald Trump carries out his decision, he will inflame the entire region and threaten the US’ interests there,” Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Abbas, said to Palestine TV in February.
The move overturns decades of international consensus on Jerusalem, a highly contested city, half of which was occupied and annexed by Israel following the 1967 War.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its “united” capital, and its annexation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de-facto Israeli control. The Palestinians, however, see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The international community, including the US, does not recognise Israel’s jurisdiction and ownership of the city.
Palestinians say that moving the embassy would prejudge one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict – the status of Jerusalem – and undermine the US’ status as an honest mediator.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that the move would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”.