More than 1,000 Israeli police officers will be working near the event, which will be attended by a US delegation represented by presidential advisers Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner (the man tasked to fix the Middle East), and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Around 800 people are expected to attend the event, including a congressional delegation and a presidential delegation led by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
“We look forward to celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary and the bright future ahead. We will pray for the boundless potential of the future of the US-Israel alliance, and we will pray for peace,” Ivanka wrote on Instagram ahead of the opening as Palestinians gather for protests, which are expected to be met with Israeli gunfire.
The inauguration comes severals months after President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel and stated that the US will move its embassy from Tel Aviv. The US State Department later announced the embassy move would “coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.”
The decision was met with international outrage and prompted violent protests. Israel has called Jerusalem its capital since 1950. It annexed East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank in the Six Day War of 1967. The international community does not formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital in the event of a two-state solution, which is supported worldwide as a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The date of the embassy opening delivers an additional sting to Palestinians, as it comes a day before of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. Translated as ‘the catastrophe,’ it describes the forced displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians from their lands, along with the destruction of hundreds of villages and the period of violence before the establishment of the State of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948.
Memories of the Nakba are “handed down to families from generation to generation,” Conor McCarthy, founder of Academics for Palestine and co-founder of the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, told RT.
Palestinians mark the Nakba on May 15, the first day of the newly-established State of Israel, which would turn their temporary displacement to one far more permanent.
“Historically, one of the reasons that the Palestinian issue hasn’t melted away or vanished is that the Palestinian refugee population has not assimilated somewhere else; it’s left as a refugee population,” McCarthy said.
Today, 80 percent of Gaza’s 1.8 million population are the children and grandchildren of refugees who left their homes with the erroneous belief that their fleeing was a temporary escape to save their families. “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth and is also subject to siege, so things like that help to enforce a recurring kind of memory,”McCarthy said. “They just aren’t forgotten.”
Great Return March
The six-week Great Return March taking place on the Gaza-Israel border is an expression of the Palestinians’ longing to return to the homeland they left behind all those years ago. It was in part sparked by the frustration over Trump’s embassy announcement, and its conclusion coincides with both Nakba and the embassy move. The protest, which was met by Israel with violence as dozens were killed by sniper fire and over 1,700 wounded (according to Gaza health officials) is expected to gather tens of thousands on Monday and be the largest yet.