US Embassy in Jerusalem to open with initial staff of 50

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  • The embassy is moving from Tel Aviv in line with President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • Officials say the US delegation doesn’t plan to meet any Palestinian officials during their visit.

WASHINGTON: The new US Embassy in Jerusalem will open with an initial staff of at least 50.
That’s according to senior Trump administration officials previewing the highly anticipated opening on May 14. The embassy is moving from Tel Aviv in line with President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Roughly 800 guests will attend. Officials say the US delegation doesn’t plan to meet any Palestinian officials during their visit.

Initial embassy staff will include Ambassador David Friedman’s aides and US consular officers already working at the site. The embassy is opening in part of a pre-existing American visa-and-passport facility with a fraction of the total US personnel in Israel.
President Trump will address the assembled US and Israeli dignitaries at the opening of the embassy by video on Monday.

It was not immediately clear from the senior administration official’s comment, on a background call to reporters, whether Trump would speak via a live videolink or a pre-recorded address.

The official said staff at the mission in Tel Aviv had just marked its last day as an embassy, and that the ambassador’s team would turn up for work on Monday at the Jerusalem embassy, which would host an opening ceremony later that day.
“I think we’re all very happy and excited to be participating in such a historic event. People have been working, really around the clock and getting ready for our opening dedication ceremony on Monday. We’ll be ready,” he said.

“We’re expecting around 800 people,” he said, adding that in addition to the previously announced US presidential delegation, he expected an “healthy number” of guests from the US Congress.

“The president, from my side of things, will be addressing the audience by video,” the official said.

But he stressed the event will be a bilateral US-Israeli celebration, downplaying reports that very few if any diplomats from other countries that have not recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would attend.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will lead the delegation that will include Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband and senior White House aide Jared Kushner, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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