Treasury Secretary Mnuchin To Lead Large U.S. Delegation to Jerusalem Embassy Opening

A picture shows the exterior of the US embassy in Tel Aviv, which the US has said it will relocate to Jerusalem in May 2018 in a controversial move
AFP

TEL AVIV – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead a delegation of 250 American officials and Jewish leaders, including 40 politicians, to the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem next month, Israel’s Channel 10 reported Sunday.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Vice President Mike Pence have both indicated they might attend, but nothing has been confirmed. However, Mnuchin will be accompanied by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Kushner’s wife, Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

Some 40 senators will join the delegation, including Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham. The delegation will also include congressmen and the heads of major U.S. Jewish groups and pro-Israel Christian organizations. Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt is also set to attend.

After the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Guatemala is expected to follow suit. Honduras will be the third country to relocate to Jerusalem thereafter.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Friday said his government had also approved an embassy relocation to Jerusalem. However, under Romanian law, the country’s president Klaus Iohannis would still have the final say, and Iohannis has spoken out in opposition to the move.

The Czech Parliament has also expressed support for moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

The new U.S. embassy, to be opened on the current grounds of the U.S. consulate, will be built incrementally, an official in the Tel Aviv embassy told the Times of Israel last week.

“Initially, the interim embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador [Friedman] and a small staff. By the end of next year, we will complete the construction of additional office space in the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim capacity,” the official said.

“Most embassy staff will continue to live and work in Tel Aviv during this period, until a new embassy is built in Jerusalem. We expect the process of site selection, design, planning and permitting, and construction of a permanent embassy to take additional years to complete.”

Friedman will “continue to divide his time between his official residence in Herzliya and a residence in Jerusalem during the initial phases of the embassy move, as this is a multi-year process,” the official said.

Trump reportedly decided against attending the opening of the embassy despite having said during a meeting with Netanyahu last month, “If I can, I will.”

 

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