U.S. to open embassy in Jerusalem in May

Support for a new generation of Palestinians

Donald Trump's decision past year that the U.S. would recognise Jerusalem - not Tel Aviv - as Israel's capital infuriated Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump's announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordering that the embassy be moved broke decades of US policy. "Much of the embassy staff could continue to operate from Tel Aviv during the early stages", writes the Times.

The US schedule for the move appears to have sped up: during his visit to Israel last month, Vice President Mike Pence said that the embassy would move by the end of 2019. Critics argue that Trump was essentially circumventing Israel-Palestinian peace talks, where Jerusalem's status was to be one of the topics for negotiation.

In 2014, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used the phrase "occupied territories" to refer to the West Bank and other areas where Palestinians live in Israel that are administered under Israeli control.

Erekat, who is also secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said: "Trump and his team have disqualified the USA from being part of the solution between Israelis and Palestinians; rather, the world now sees that they are part of the problem".

"It will turn Israel's 70th Independence Day into an even greater national celebration", Netanyahu said in a statement posted on Twitter by the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Trump administration officials said State Department lawyers were evaluating the legality of accepting private donations to fund the move, including a contribution offer from casino mogul and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. Instead, the State Department confirmed that consular offices in Jerusalem will be renovated and given the title of "embassy".

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A ribbon-cutting ceremony is reportedly being planned for mid-May.

"We officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel", Trump said to prolonged applause from a friendly audience at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee event just outside Washington, DC.

The controversial relocation will come much faster than initially expected, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying in December that it would take years before the move was completed.

One official said plans for May were simple: "A sign will be put up identifying the facility as the United States embassy".

Adelson is a major contributor to the Republican Party, a loyal supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owner of a popular tabloid in Israel. Trump's proposed 2019 budget significantly cut funding for protection of United States diplomatic facilities overseas.

Officials said the U.S. could initially retrofit a small suite of offices at the existing facility to accommodate current ambassador David Friedman and one or two top aides including his chief of staff.

But he says the campaign in favor of moving the embassy was also incredible.

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