May 7 (UPI) — President Donald Trump won’t be part of the high-ranking delegation attending the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem next week, the White House said Monday.
Trump, who announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, delivered on one of his presidential campaign promises to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The president’s decision to move the embassy sparked anger across the Arab world. If Trump attended the ceremony, it might have amplified protests that are expected to break out around the opening.
In his place, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will lead the delegation, the White House said in a statement.
U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel David M. Friedman, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and assistant to the president Jason D. Greenblatt will also attend.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who serve as advisers to the president, will also attend.
Last month, the president hinted at attending the opening ceremony, saying, “If I can, I will.”
Trump said the United States expected to spend a quarter-million dollars on the building’s construction.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Trump administration’s decision to move the embassy, while Trump said the relationship between the United States and Israel has “never been better.”
“We are very close on trade deals, we are very, very close on military and terrorism and all of the things that we have to work together on. The relationship has never been better,” Trump said of Israel.
The first U.S. Embassy road signs went up in Jerusalem on Monday.
“This is not a dream — it’s reality! This morning, I installed the signs for the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem!” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat tweeted. “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people — and the world is beginning to recognize this fact!”
Palestinian officials said Monday the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was a violation of international law.
“By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy thereto, the U.S. President Donald Trump administration is violating its obligations under international law, including UNSCR 478, and the U.S. own commitments towards the peace process,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said.