US ready to open Jerusalem embassy in May

Officials said the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open in May 2018 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence.

President Trump announced in December he would be moving the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition that Jerusalem is the true capital of Israel.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future 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.

Trump's move, Khaldi said in an interview, "gave the Israelis a pretext to say that Jerusalem is unified under Israeli rule", contravenes worldwide law and will impede peace efforts.

Last month, Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli Parliament that the new embassy would open "before the end of next year".

No other country has recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and Trump's decision has sown discord between the United States and the European Union over Middle East peace efforts. "Jerusalem was the right thing to do".

Administration officials have suggested that a longer timeframe may have helped to keep peace efforts alive while sparing the U.S. the sensitive issue of choosing a site for the embassy.

US State Department lawyers are reportedly looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some of the costs for the relocation of the embassy.

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

The US move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital broke with generations of global consensus that the city's status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

But the move was derided by Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who said that it showed the determination of the Trump administration to "destroy the two-state solution".

Trump's proclamation shocked the Palestinian leadership, which responded by rejecting the USA as a peace broker, a position it had held for years.