President Donald Trump expressed hope for peace Monday in recorded remarks played at the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, an occasion marked in Gaza by protests and the use of deadly force by Israeli forces.
“We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians, and to all of their neighbors. May there be peace,” the president said in his video remarks. “May God bless this embassy. May God bless all who serve there. And may God bless the United States of America.”
With Monday’s ceremony, Trump made good on a campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that had been mandated by law since 1995 and championed by Israeli leaders but avoided for decades through waivers signed by presidents of both political parties.
But Monday’s opening also brought with it anger from Palestinians for whom the status of Jerusalem remains among the most contested issues involved in the long-running regional dispute. As dignitaries gathered at the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, protesters swarmed along the Gaza border, where Israeli forces killed at least 41 people, according to the Associated Press. Protesters hurled projectiles at Israeli forces and lit tires on fire, choking the air with thick black smoke.
Monday’s embassy ceremony was attended by a U.S. delegation that included deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) attended Monday’s ceremony as well, as did a handful of House members.