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US Embassy move to Jerusalem 'national security priority,' Mnuchin says

Fox News 2018-05-14 15:42:27
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US embassy set to open in Jerusalem

Pastor Robert Jeffress weighs in on the opening.

The Trump administration’s decision to relocate the Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “national security priority” for the U.S., Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin came to Jerusalem ahead of the opening ceremony for the new U.S. Embassy as part of a 250-member delegation led by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. Mnuchin will unveil the plaque officially recognizing the embassy in Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel.

“I'm thrilled to be here on behalf of the president. It's a big day - moving the embassy here. Seventy years in the making. We're thrilled to be here representing the president to do this,” Mnuchin said.

Israel gets ready to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.  (AP)

The treasury secretary’s comments come amid celebration and mass protests in Israel and Gaza leading up to Monday’s festivities.

Israel prepared enthusiastically Sunday for the formal embassy opening with a gala party at its Foreign Ministry that included President Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and other U.S. officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told revelers that Trump's December declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital was "the right thing to do."

"Thank you, President Trump, for your bold decision. Thank you for making the alliance between Israel and the United States stronger than ever,” he said.

The prime minister said Trump's decision recognized a 3,000-year Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the "truth" that Jerusalem would be Israel's capital under any future peace deal.

Meanwhile, Israel bolstered its border security as thousands of Gaza residents headed toward the Israeli border for a possibly bloody showdown ahead of the embassy opening. At least one Palestinian was killed in the area where protests were taking part, Gaza's Health Ministry.

Hamas leaders have suggested a possible border breach in the days leading up to the embassy celebration, while Israel has warned it would prevent protesters from breaking the border at any cost.

Israelis wave national flags outside the Old City's Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem.  (AP)

Palestinian officials have criticized the Trump administration for its decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the U.S., declaring it unfit to be the sole mediator for potential peace between Israel and Palestine.

The Trump administration had brushed off Palestinian criticism, saying that the embassy move could be a first step for brokering a peace agreement.

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.