JERUSALEM – As officials marked the historic transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overflowed with gratitude to America and her president for recognizing an important truth.
“The truth will always be that Jerusalem has always been, will always be, the capital of the Jewish state,” he said.
“The truth will always be that Jerusalem has always been, will always be, the capital of the Jewish state.”
In his remarks at the embassy dedication, on the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, Netanyahu drew the connection between truth and peace saying that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the first step toward a lasting peace in the Middle East. He referenced a verse in Zechariah: “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth.'” (Zechariah 8:3)
“The truth and peace are interconnected,” he said. “A peace that is based on lies will only crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern realities.”
Almost a year since U.S. President Donald Trump visited Israel in his first foreign tour as president, he has made good on his campaign promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said in a video address during the official dedication of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon
The recognition by America, as a world superpower, of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital plus moving its embassy there send a powerful message of support for the Jewish state at a time when many nations and the BDS movement vilify Israel and anti-Semitism is on the rise globally.
“Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right like any other sovereign nation, to designate its capital,” Trump said.
At the ceremony, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin revealed the new embassy seal as some 800 guests looked on including American senators and congressmen and Israeli members of Knesset.
Leading the special dedication ceremony on Israel’s 70th anniversary, America’s Ambassador to Israel David Friedman opened the ceremony at 4 p.m. —exactly 70 years to the hour when Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion opened the ceremony to declare the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.
“Today we keep our promise,” Friedman declared.
Friedman said America was the first country to recognize the State of Israel exactly 70 years ago and has now taken “a step awaited, voted upon, and litigated and prayed for for all these years.”
The building, in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, now designated as the embassy was built several years ago and has served as a U.S. Consular Section facility. In inaugurating the embassy, the building receives the official embassy seal and will now house the ambassador’s office.
John Sullivan, deputy secretary of state, said this move is “a step toward advancing peace in this city, this region, and throughout the world.”
That point was reiterated by the president himself and his son in law Jared Kushner who serves as a special advisor to Trump.
“As we have seen from the protest of the last month and even today those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” Kushner said referring to the protests at the Gaza border. “The United States is prepared to support a peace agreement in every way that we can. We believe that it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give so that all people can live in peace safe from danger, free from fear and able to pursue their dreams.”
Kushner, the grandson of Holocaust victims, lauded Israel as the only nation in the Middle East where Jews, Christians and Muslims enjoy freedom of worship.
“These are the values that bind us together,” he said. “Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together.”
Two American evangelical pastors participated in the ceremony. Pastor Robert Jeffress prayed at the embassy opening followed by a prayer by Chabad Rabbi Zalman Wolowik. John Hagee, a Christian pastor and founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), gave the benediction at the embassy dedication.
Netanyahu declared that this recognition of a long standing truth – that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish nation – was a first and positive step toward peace.
“May the opening of this embassy, in this city, spread this truth far and wide, and may the truth advance a lasting peace between Israel and all of our neighbors. God bless America and God bless Jerusalem, the undivided capital of Israel,” he said.
During the ceremony, hundreds of Arabs, including five members of parliament, protested near the site.
“Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’”