The Israeli authorities on Monday began placing signs bearing the words “U.S. Embassy” on the streets of Jerusalem amid preparations for the new diplomatic mission’s scheduled inauguration next week, according to witnesses.
Signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English have reportedly been seen in the city’s Arona neighborhood.
An inauguration ceremony for the new embassy, to be attended by top U.S. and Israeli officials, is expected to take place next week.
A preexisting U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem will serve as embassy temporarily until a new and much larger embassy building can be built — a process that will likely take a few years.
On Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), called on diplomats and civil society organizations to boycott next week’s inauguration ceremony.
“Participation in the ceremony only serves to lend legitimacy to this illegitimate and illegal decision [to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem] and… the [Israeli] occupation,” Erekat said in a statement.
The U.S. intends to officially relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment in 1948 — an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or the “The Catastrophe”.
Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump sparked outcry across the Arab and Muslim world when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and vowed to relocate Washington’s embassy to the city.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Palestine-Israel conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.