JERUSALEM, Israel.- The United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem Monday with a high-powered American presidential delegation joining Israel’s top leadership in a celebration of their countries’ friendship and the city’s history as the ancient capital of the Jewish people.
In a jarring contrast, Israeli forces shot and killed at least 55 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,200 during mass protests Monday along the Gaza border, while just a few miles away Israel and the U.S. held a festive inauguration ceremony for the new American Embassy in contested Jerusalem.
It was by far the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a devastating 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, and further dimmed the already bleak prospects for President Donald Trump’s hoped-for peace plan.
About 800 well-dressed guests packed a podium outside the former U.S. Consulate compound in southeastern Jerusalem that was rededicated as the new embassy, for the time being until a permanent site is determined.
Guests were handed red and blue baseball caps marking the occasion, the U.S. Marines presented their colors and a large video screen featured the American flag and a montage of Israeli and U.S. leaders meeting throughout the years.
For Israelis, it marked the first official recognition of their capital after 70 years. But the move infuriated Palestinians, who seek the eastern part of the city that Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war as their future capital.