Palestinians slam USA embassy Jerusalem opening as 'provocation'

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The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership on Friday blasted the US decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem in May, coinciding with Israel's 70th Independence Day, saying it was "a provocation to Arabs".

Trump's initial decision to move the embassy placed him squarely in the middle of the decades-long conflict over Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as the capital of a future state but that Israel says will remain under its permanent control.

A May opening of a Jerusalem embassy appears to represent an earlier time frame than what had been expected.

Israel holds Jerusalem to be its indivisible capital, while Palestinians want the city's eastern sector to be their capital in an independent Palestine state.

A spokesman for the Gaza health ministry said 25 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli live fire during clashes along the fence with Israel in Gaza.

Erekat, who is also secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said: "Trump and his team have disqualified the US from being part of the solution between Israelis and Palestinians; rather, the world now sees that they are part of the problem".

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The date was chosen to coincide with 70th anniversary of Israel's independence. Four U.S. officials told The Associated Press that State Department lawyers are researching whether accepting such a deal would be legal.

The Trump administration is reportedly reviewing an offer to help cover the costs of the Jerusalem embassy from Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Although Trump has promoted the Jerusalem move as fulfilling a key campaign promise, he also was outspoken last month in blasting the $1 billion price tag for a new embassy in London. "Jerusalem was the right thing to do".

The State Department then chose to retrofit an existing U.S. consular facility in Arnona for use ahead of the permanent embassy's construction. Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.

State Department lawyers are studying the legality of the proposal, which Adelson has been discussing with Friedman since previous year, the official said.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the embassy announcement as "a great day for the people of Israel". "Thanks friend!" Katz said in a tweet. The U.S. facility will initially accommodate ambassador David Friedman and his staff.

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