The White House on Monday announced that President Donald Trump will not go to Jerusalem as part of the delegation attending the opening of a new United States Embassy within the city.
The delegation, which includes Ivanka Trump, Trump adviser Jared Kushner, and U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel David M. Friedman, will instead be led by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
Others attending the ceremony on May 14 include U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Jason D. Greenblatt, an assistant to the president and special representative for international negotiations.
The opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem comes after President Trump decided last December to recognize the city as the capital of Israel, a move that sparked controversy across the Middle East.
“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” Trump said when he made the announcement. “It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
The vast majority of countries in the United Nations do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, however, and previous American policies tended to focus on finding ways for Israel and Palestine to figure out a future for Jerusalem during peace negotiations.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the policy shift was a “deliberate undermining of all efforts to achieve peace, and [was] a declaration of the withdrawal of the United States from playing the role which it has played over the past decades as a peace broker.”
The opening of the new embassy is set to take place just one day before current protests in Palestine are expected to come to head.
Even so, President Trump said two weeks ago during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he “may go” see the opening or visit it at a later date, as he was “very proud” of the embassy.