May 15, 2018 2:11 PM By Elsie Boskamp
U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin attended the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem earlier this week after meeting privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a congressional delegation visit.
On Monday, which marked the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, the U.S. Embassy was moved from its previous location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the holy city, by President Donald Trump to recognize it as the country’s capital, a decision announced in December 2017, and a pledge he had made during the presidential campaign a year earlier.
The move sparked deadly protests along the Gaza border, which sits northwest of Israel, from Palestinians, who, like the Israelis, also refer to Jerusalem as their capital. Israel has controlled West Jerusalem, where their parliament and the prime minister’s home are, since 1949, and in 1967 captured East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians are rallying to take control of East Jerusalem and had been protesting the relocation of the American embassy for several weeks. On Monday, demonstrations turned deadly, and as of Tuesday 58 people had been killed and more than 2,700 injured by Israeli troops guarding the border, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
In a statement, Mr. Zeldin, who was one of 14 members to participate in the congressional delegation, referred to the embassy relocation as “long overdue” and said he was grateful for President Trump’s decision.
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and this is where our embassy should be located,” Mr. Zeldin said in a press release. “The support, pride and warm welcome from Israelis has been such a remarkable memory I will never want to forget. This is a historic day not only for the life of a nation but also for an alliance between nations that is second to none.”
In addition to the politicians from the Senate and House of Representatives, a presidential delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who is a special advisor.