When the announcement was first made, people were skeptical. And with good reason.
The State Department was full of Obama holdovers. And it was culturally resistant to anything remotely pro-Israel. I'm not Secretary of State Tillerson's biggest fan, but it does look like he's done a good job of cleaning house. Had the usual suspects gotten their way, the embassy would have been covered in red tape and postponed until Trump was out of office. And then buried.
But now it looks like it's happening. Soon.
The Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, timed with Israel's 70th Independence Day, a State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
"We’re planning to open the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May," the US official told the Post. "The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary."
"The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem," he continued. "At least initially, it will consist of the Ambassador and a small team."
"We are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to the May opening," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
US President Donald Trump touted his decision to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in a speech to a conservative action group in Washington on Friday.
"I said, 'I have to do it, because its the right thing to do,'" Trump said, of his conversations with world leaders leading up to the decision. "The campaign against it was so incredible. But you know what, the campaign for it was also incredible."
"I put the word out that I may do it. I was hit by more countries and more pressure and more people calling, begging me 'Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it,'" Trump said.
"I said we have to do it. It's the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do, we have to do it. And I did it."
It still seems unbelievable. Anyone involved in pro-Israel activism has learned to ignore promises of an embassy move as meaningless AIPAC bait. The sort of thing that politicians promise, but never actually mean. The move would be incredible. And the promise fulfilled would be even more incredible.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday hailed the U.S. announcement that it would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May as “a great day for the people of Israel”.
“President Trump’s decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem on the coming Independence Day follows his historic declaration in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” he said in a statement issued by the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
“This decision will turn Israel’s 70th Independence Day into an even bigger celebration. Thank you President Trump for your leadership and friendship,” it added.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also welcomed the announcement by the United States.
“President Trump’s bold decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem this May, in honor of our seventieth Independence Day, is a testament to the unbreakable alliance and true friendship between the U.S. and Israel,” said Ambassador Danon
Somewhere John Kerry is riding a pink bike extra hard around a parking lot. The Muslim Brotherhood's Hamas arm is almost as unhappy as Kerry.
In Gaza, a Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that "Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation, and the US administration must reconsider its move."
Hamas may want to reconsider instead.