WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is not a judgment on the final status of the city and its "contested borders," the State Department said in a statement on Friday.
The US statement comes ahead of a dedication ceremony at the new embassy on Monday, timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence. Palestinians will mark "Nakba Day" shortly thereafter and plan on protesting the US move.
"Moving our embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal," the State Department note said. "Rather, it is a necessary condition for it. We are not taking a position on final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, nor on the resolution of contested borders."
Hundreds of guests will attend the opening event, including the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman; the daughter and son-in-law of the president, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner; Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin; and Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations.
The note also says that Trump continues to support the status quo arrangement on the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif.
"Consulate General Jerusalem will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate responsible for U.S. relations with the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority," it reads. "The administration is firmly committed to pursuing a lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians that promises a brighter future for both."
The statement also follows a policy reversal in the State Department's country report on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, in which it dropped the qualifier "occupied" when referring to the West Bank and Gaza.
Nakba Day, which commemorates the Palestinian experience that came with the establishment of the state of Israel, will be marked this year on May 15, the day after the embassy dedication. A "day of rage" has been called for both days. This will follow 6 weeks of protests on the Gaza border, in which dozens of Palestinians have been shot and killed by IDF forces while taking part in demonstrations.
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