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US embassy opens as Gaza violence erupts

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-15 03:41

Protests rocked Israel on Monday, with dozens of Palestinians reported killed at the Gaza border by Israeli troops, before the ceremony moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday. The move came after months of global outcry over President Donald Trump's decision, which tossed aside decades of precedent.

Gaza's Health Ministry reported at least 41 Palestinians killed and 1,700 wounded by late afternoon, The New York Times reported.

Protests also broke out elsewhere on what was the deadliest day since a 2014 war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Israel's army said 35,000 Palestinians were taking part in "violent riots" along the security fence and that its troops were operating "in accordance with standard procedures".

The inauguration was attended by a White House delegation including US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Israeli officials on Monday afternoon.

President Trump said via satellite that the move has "been a long time coming" and that as a sovereign nation, Israel has the right to determine the location of its capital. He added that the US "remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement" between Israel and the Palestinians.

Eighty-six foreign ambassadors in Israel were invited to the ceremony, and 40 of them accepted.

Four European countries — Austria, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary — participated in the inauguration despite European Union opposition to the relocation.

The move follows Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in December. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly called Trump's decision "historic", called on world leaders to follow the US and relocate their embassies to Jerusalem. He also thanked Guatemala and Paraguay for moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

Sullivan said Trump's decision to relocate the embassy was "essential to creating a road map for peace in the region."

Since the demonstrations began on March 30, Israeli troops have killed 86 Palestinians while no Israeli casualties were reported, Palestinian health officials said.

Israel seized East Jerusalem, together with the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed East Jerusalem shortly later, claiming it as part of its "indivisible capital".

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Following Trump's move, they said the US cannot be considered as a fair peace broker in the Middle East.

Xinhua and AFP contributed to this story.

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