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Thursday, May 10, 2018

New U.S. embassy in Jerusalem: A stone plaque and $400,000 in renovations, for now

By Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, May 8, 2018

JERUSALEM–Standing in the yard outside the soon-to-be U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem last week, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman watched as a worker positioned a newly chiseled stone plaque on the wall. Friedman held up his phone and snapped a picture.

For all the fanfare surrounding the opening of the new embassy this coming Monday, the hanging of the plaque on what is currently a consular services building is one of the few changes that will initially take place.

The first phase involves shifting just the ambassador and his core staff from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem–less than a half-dozen people–according to a U.S. official. That first move, including building modifications and additional security, cost under $400,000, another U.S. official said.

But the move is deeply symbolic, upending the decades-old U.S. policy of withholding recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until the final status of the contested city is worked out in a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

About 700 guests, mostly Americans, including members of Congress and representatives of organizations with close ties to Israel, are expected to attend alongside senior Israeli officials. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will head the U.S. delegation, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, the White House said.

Israel is bracing for demonstrations around the embassy opening, which comes just a day before Palestinians mark the anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in which they lost their land when the Israeli state was created in 1948.

Palestinian officials have called on diplomats, religious officials and civil-society organizations to boycott the opening ceremony, describing the move as illegal and a blow to peace efforts.

The site is the “newest and most secure U.S. facility in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” one of the U.S. officials said.

The Arnona neighborhood was on the front line during the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, and the building straddles the armistice lines drawn the following year between Israel and Jordan, with the property jutting into what was once no-man’s land.

Now, a new asphalt access road, paid for by a grant from the Israeli transportation ministry, snakes up to its side. It is one of the few modifications made during the first phase of the move. Construction of a planned 10- to 15-foot-high security wall has not yet started.

The embassy in Tel Aviv has 850 staff members, and it won’t be until the embassy is finished in seven to 10 years that a significant number of employees would move to the new location.

The arrival of the embassy has been met with mixed feelings in the Arnona neighborhood. A group of 20 residents, assisted by the left-wing Israeli group Ir Amim, petitioned the Supreme Court to block the embassy move, objecting to planned changes such as the security wall and an increase in closed-circuit television cameras. They challenged the state over the urgency of the move, but the petition was rejected May 1.

“My husband thinks it’s a potential security issue, that it will make the area more vulnerable,” said Shira Hasson, 38, as she sat outside a small bakery just up the hill from the new embassy site. “But it’s not the most worrisome thing on our minds.”

As she discussed the concerns, Bracha Meyer, listening nearby, felt compelled to interrupt.

“You should be thanking God that Jerusalem is being recognized as Israel’s capital and stop complaining,” said the 65-year-old, sporting a black beret.

She later explained that the security wall was no concern. “Blocking what view? Looking at the Arabs? There are so many vagabonds and Arabs lying around on the grass,” she said, gesturing toward the valley that separates Arnona from the nearest Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

She later explained how she believed that the embassy move was part of divine prophecy, a view expressed by some Jews and evangelical Christians. “The messiah is on the doorstep,” she said.

Dennis Edwards: Here we see an Israeli woman believing that the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be a sign of the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Many Christians also believe the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem is a step towards the last seven years spoken of by Daniel the prophet.

Jesus Christ Himself, talking to His disciples about His return to earth in the last days, mentions Daniel's prophecy and the placing of the abomination of desolation in the Temple. Jesus indicates that the placing of the abomination of desolation in the Temple would be the sign of the beginning of the Great Tribulation. He would return "immediately after the tribulation of those days."

Christians believe the Orthodox Jews are misinterpreting the prophecies in the Old Testament. The Rabbis are understanding the prophecies as a fulfillment of their Jewish Messiah, whereas Christians see them as the fulfillment of Christ's own prediction of His return.

Rather than Messiah coming, the military and political leader of the last days commonly known as the Antichrist will appear instead and deceive the world and the Jewish people. However when he begins his persecution of religious peoples and demands the implementation of the "Mark of the Beast" technology or what many believe will be some type of bio-techno implant, many religious people turn against him.

Thus begins the horrendous period of persecutions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims and of anyone who will not accept the Mark of the Beast and the Antichrist global government.

It remains to be seen what actually develops in the Middle East as a result of the opening of the USA Embassy in Jerusalem. The event is scheduled to take place on the 70th anniversary of the Jewish people's victory over the Arabs on May 15, 1948.

With today's bombing by Israel of locations in Syria things do not seem to be cooling down. We could still be headed for an international agreement on the state of Jerusalem as called for by the King of Jordan and promised in the 1974 UN resolution 274 on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

That's why I'm prone to believe we are still headed towards the last seven years predicted by Daniel the prophet in the Old Testament some 700 years before Christ's birth. That's what I believe Bible prophecy indicates. That's what many Christians throughout history have believed.

Maybe we have it all wrong as some would contend. I guess we will have to wait and see if we are understanding the prophecies correctly. But God's word tells us not one thing will fail of all the things the Lord our God has promised concerning us. All prophecies unfulfilled will find their mates in their fulfillment, not one shall lack it's mate.

You might like to note here that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will be heading up the delegation of Americans at the event. No doubt Trump won his victory over Hillary with a promise of greater support for Israel. He may have even cut a pre-election deal to make next week's move to secure the Jewish vote. Or the Jewish lobby may have presented to him the same proposition if he wanted their support.

One thing we remember is that both Bill Clinton and Obama were not keen on Israel not brokering an agreement with the Palestinians. Some Arab leaders believe that America's position today, by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, undermines the UN resolution 274 which called for some type of agreement over Jerusalem.

Let's keep our eyes open to what develops.

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