US President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington on Friday that he “may go” to the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem next month.
At a White House press conference, a reporter from the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) asked who would represent the White House at the historic inauguration.
The president gave the surprising answer, “I may go. Very proud of it.”
The president had previously said he would not intend, leading to a report that his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, would attend in his place. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was originally set to lead a 250-member delegation for the event, including 40 members of Congress. Republican senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham are also expected to attend, along with Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.
The new embassy will be housed temporarily in the American Consulate in the Arnona neighborhood in south Jerusalem. The temporary facility will cost taxpayers $300-400,000, a substantial saving from initial estimates of $1 billion for a new facility.
Ironically, the president made this announcement while standing next to visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel who, in an interview on Israeli television last week, announced that her country had no intention of moving their embassy to Jerusalem.
Israeli Hadashot television news cited sources in the Israeli government who stated that they were surprised by the president’s announcement and no mention of the president had been made in correspondence with the White House concerning the embassy opening.
Hadashot also cited American officials as saying that the embassy opening would also be used to announce President Trump’s Middle East peace plan. The plan may include “compensation” to the Palestinian Authority for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump’s new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit Israel this week.