Human rights advocates are shattering the characterization of the U.S. embassy’s opening in Jerusalem on Monday as something to celebrate—a portrayal put forth by President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Senate’s top Democrat, among others—and are instead decrying the move as one that violates international law, further legitimizes the occupation, and makes yet more clear the U.S. can be no honest broker in any peace process.
Trump declared opening day for the embassy’s new home a “great” and “big day for Israel,” while Netanyahu declared Monday “a glorious day” and thanked Trump, saying, “All of us are deeply moved. All of us are deeply grateful.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised the embassy’s controversial move from Tel Aviv as well, calling it “a long overdue move.”
“I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago,” Schumer added, “and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”
“The celebration of annexation, even as Palestinians—the vast majority of whom are refugees—are being gunned down simply for protesting for their basic rights to live in dignity and freedom, could not illustrate more clearly the continuing catastrophe that Israel is imposing on Palestinians. Still worse, it’s doing so with the full collusion of the U.S.”
—Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for PeaceYet the move is condemned by human rights groups and the international community.
The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, for one, said, “The move of the US embassy to Jerusalem legitimizes Israel’s illegal annexation of the city, and its ongoing displacement and disenfranchisement of Jerusalem’s native Palestinian residents.”
Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, similarly commented that “the United States has chosen to reward the illegal annexation of occupied territory.”
“The Trump administration may portray this action as simply hauling desks from one building to another. But in reality this move intentionally undermines Palestinian rights and in effect condones decades of violations by Israel, including the creation of illegal settlements, which constitute war crimes,” Jarrar added.
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As White House senior adviser, the president’s son-in law, and Netanyahu family friend Jared Kushner was in Jerusalem heading the American delegation for the opening of the embassy, he declared that the U.S. and Israel “stand together because we both believe in human rights” and “believe that democracy is worth defending”—even as Israeli forces were in the midst of firing on unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza clamoring for freedom.
In this latest assault on Gazans taking part in the March of Great Return, Israeli forces injured over 900 people and killed at least 50. United Nation Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in response: “Shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire in #Gaza must stop now. The right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The int’l community needs to ensure justice for victims.”
Kushner, for his part, said the protesters are “part of the problem,” though that comment reportedly did not make it into the official White House transcript.
According to Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, “The celebration of annexation, even as Palestinians—the vast majority of whom are refugees—are being gunned down simply for protesting for their basic rights to live in dignity and freedom, could not illustrate more clearly the continuing catastrophe that Israel is imposing on Palestinians. Still worse, it’s doing so with the full collusion of the U.S.”
Given the ongoing situation, a group of human defenders known as the “Justice Delegation,” fresh off a visit to Palestine and Israel, said the “Palestinian condition is one of ongoing Nakba,” and described the Trump administration’s relocation of the embassy as a move that gives license to and further enables “Israeli policies that only serve to escalate the conflict.”
The U.S. delegation, meanwhile, enjoyed a nice meal.