JERUSALEM (AP) — American and Israeli delegations have begun a festive ceremony to mark the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
U.S. Ambassador David Friedman welcomed the crowd. “Today we open the United States embassy in Jerusalem Israel,” he said to warm applause.
Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, both top aides to President Donald Trump, are leading a high-powered American delegation that also includes the treasury secretary and four Republican senators.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also in the audience.
The ceremony was taking place as Palestinians are holding a mass protest on the Gaza border with Israel. Some 37 people were killed on Sunday, in the deadliest day of cross-border violence since a 2014 war.
The head of the United Nations says he is worried about the news coming from Gaza, “with the high number of people killed.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his concerns Monday in Vienna, as clashes were taking place along the Israeli-Palestinian border and senior aides to U.S. President Donald Trump were in Jerusalem celebrating the opening of the new U.S. embassy there.
Guterres said, “I’m particularly worried about the news coming from Gaza with the high number of people killed.”
The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.
As the Gaza Health Ministry announced that the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire had risen to 37, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News that Monday was an “incredible, momentous day” and said it was “great honor” to lead the dedication ceremony on Trump’s behalf.
Mnuchin also said “it’s not coincidental” that the opening of the new embassy coincided with Trump’s announcement that he planned to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Mnuchin has repeatedly said of Jerusalem: “This is the capital of Israel.”
Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, President Donald Trump’s top aides and supporters are celebrating the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem as a campaign promised fulfilled.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, were leading the ceremonies. Also on hand were Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
In a Fox News interview that made no reference to the climbing death toll, Mnuchin said Trump is “taking action” and “making difficult decisions” and “not just kicking the can down the road.”
The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv has infuriated the Palestinians. Israeli fire has killed at least 37 Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)