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Israel approves controversial Jerusalem cable auto project

Israel approves controversial Jerusalem cable auto project

Israel yesterday kicked off festivities to celebrate the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, even as it bolstered its forces along the Gaza border and in the West Bank in anticipation of mass Palestinian protests of the move.

But on Sunday top USA officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said they could still push forward the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that other countries should follow the U.S. lead "because it's the right thing to do".

On Monday, the United States moves its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the holy city at the explosive core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and claimed by both sides as a capital. It's also a protest against the inauguration Monday of a U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.

A senior American official said on Friday that the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, set to take place next week, wasn't made as part of a "give and take" with Israel, but rather based on "the interests of the United States". Shortly after, the Government approved construction of a US$57 million cable auto system that will link west Jerusalem to the Old City.

The EU has voiced strong objections to the embassy move.

The embassy will officially open Monday, May 14, marking the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding.

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A delegation from the White House will be on hand: Mr. Trump's daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump; her husband and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who previously worked on behalf of the administration to improve Israeli-Palestinian ties; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and White House aide Jason Greenblatt.

But he stressed the event will be a bilateral US-Israeli celebration, downplaying reports that very few, if any, diplomats from other countries that have not recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital will attend.

While Netanyahu enthusiastically greeted Trump's decision to move the embassy, some Jerusalem residents have gone to court to try to stop it. Instead, they argue it can become grounds for more realistic talks and ultimately a settlement.

Pompeo said he was aware that there could be security concerns for U.S. embassies and citizens in the region in the coming days.

She pointed to a tweet from the foreign minister of Bahrain saying that Israel has a right to defend itself in the face of Iranian missiles.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, the head of the Washington delegation, called the embassy move "a long overdue recognition of reality".

On Dec 16, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in a move that triggered a new wave of violence in the region.