US's Jerusalem Embassy Set to Open in May, Could Get Adelson Funds

Jerusalem - Tel Aviv railway opening delayed six months

On the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US announcement as "a great day for the people of Israel".

The embassy move is scheduled to take place on the date marking Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948, which Palestinians call Naqba Day, or the day of the catastrophe.

The U.S. Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, based on information from three State Department officials.

State Department lawyers, meanwhile, were examining whether it is legal to accept private donations to fund a diplomatic mission, following a proposal by Las Vegas casino magnate and pro-Israel hawk Sheldon Adelson to pay for the new embassy.

The US ambassador will move his office to a consulate already in the city, the officials said, followed by the gradual expansion of its premises.

Initially, the embassy will consist of just a few offices inside an existing US facility in Jerusalem.

Mr Trump officially recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, despite fury from the Palestinians and warnings from Western allies.

But Palestine Liberation Organisation Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said it showed Washington's "determination to violate global law, destroy the two-state solution and provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe".

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Abbas and senior PA officials have since stated that the U.S. was no longer qualified to play any role in a Middle East peace process because of its "bias" in favor of Israel, and the PA has refused all substantive contacts with the Trump administration.

He said the result would be "the destruction of the two-state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims".

However, Israel's Independence Day, celebrated on May 14 by to the ancient lunar calendar, actually falls on April 19 this year, calling into question the veracity of the leak.

Palestinians will see Trump's announcement as the end of their hopes and demands for East Jerusalem as a capital of a future independent state.

Trump said his recognition of Jerusalem - making good on a 2016 campaign pledge - marked the start of a "new approach" to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a speech on Friday to a gathering of conservatives in suburban Washington, Trump recalled his controversial decision, saying he withstood enormous pressure to make the move.

The White House has insisted it will remain the lead mediator for talks and will press ahead with releasing a peace plan later this year despite the Palestinian refusals to negotiate.

USA officials have been saying for months that they intend to move the embassy to Jerusalem before the end of this calendar year - a midterm election year in the US. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, told Trump: "May your house be destroyed".

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