U.S. Ambassador gives first glimpse of new Jerusalem embassy compound

A woman walks next to a road sign directing to the U.S. embassy, in the area of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM – Viewers were given a sneak preview of the compound housing what will be the new American Embassy in Jerusalem on Friday, when the U.S. Ambassador to Israel posted footage of preparations for the opening ceremony.

Ambassador David Friedman put on the ‘U.S. Embassy Jerusalem’ Facebook page a video of himself standing in front of scaffolding covered in blue and white drapes.

Behind him are signs saying “Trump Make Israel Great” – a reference to President Donald Trump’s election slogan “Make America Great Again” – and “Trump is a Friend of Zion.”

A small interim embassy will open inside an existing American consulate building in Jerusalem on May 14, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. A larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy relocates from Tel Aviv.

“We are so excited,” said Friedman, a Trump appointee who was a strong advocate of the embassy move. “We have the official seal of the United States Embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”

Praising Trump’s December decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy to the city, Friedman signed off in Hebrew and English with the words “This year in Jerusalem.”

Trump says his Jerusalem decisions, which break with decades of American policy, make good on U.S. legislation and presidential pledges dating back decades.

They were greeted with delight by Israel’s government, which said it recognizes the “reality” of the Jewish people’s historic connection to the city.

But it infuriated Palestinians, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, called it a “slap in the face” and said Washington could no longer be regarded as an honest broker in any peace talks with Israel.

Separately, Germany has advised its citizens to stay away from Jerusalem’s Old Town this weekend, citing the possibility of violence surrounding the opening of the Embassy on May 14.