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Trump delegation arrives in Israel ahead of controversial embassy opening

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By Sallyann Nicholls
Trump delegation arrives in Israel ahead of controversial embassy opening
Copyright  REUTERS

Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have arrived in Israel ahead of the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who also serve as the President’s advisers, landed at Ben-Gurion airport, southeast of Tel Aviv, on Sunday with dignitaries from Washington in tow. The couple are expected to attend the opening ceremony on Monday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“With great joy, I am returning to Jerusalem,” Ivanka wrote on Instagram on Sunday.

“We will pray for the boundless potential of the future of the US-Israel alliance, and we will pray for peace," she added.

President Trump’s December announcement that the US embassy in Israel would be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked international outrage. Both Israel and neighbouring Palestine claim the holy city as their capital - one of many issues which have fueled their decades-long conflict – and the US had until then refrained from recognising either claim for fear of sparking violence and derailing peace talks.

But on Saturday the State Department sought to distance itself from allegations that the embassy move had obliterated any hope of reconciliation between the two countries, saying it was “not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal; 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,” the statement continued.

Around 800 people, including foreign diplomats, have been invited to the opening ceremony. But while many European countries are opting to boycott the event, ambassadors from Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria and the Czech Republic may still attend.

President Trump will also address the audience by video.