By Chantee Lans
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Protesters gathered at City Hall on Monday, amid the historic transition of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Philadelphia, for the first time in the city’s history, raised the Israeli flag over City Hall on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day.
“We are ecstatic to be able to celebrate Israel in this way,” Naomi Adler, president & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said.
Among the celebrations was opposition from protesters with the Philadelphia chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.
“The sign I’m holding is a list of Palestinians murdered by the Israeli defense forces,” protester Elijah Blanton said.
Thousands of Palestinians closed in on Israel’s border to protest the divisive decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their future capital.
“We are here today to call on our elected officials to condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza,” protester Tali Ruskin said.
Israeli’s Ambassador Consulate General Dani Dayan says it’s not that simple.
“It’s not a demonstration; it’s an attempt to invade Israeli territory in order to harm our citizens,” Dayan said. “The first and foremost duty of the country is to protect the life of its citizens.”
Eighty-six different countries were invited to send representatives to the ceremony in Jerusalem but less than half did, which underlines the controversy surrounding the embassy move.
Congressman Brendan Boyle, who represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He says President Donald Trump’s strategy is key.
“They’ve been in office for a year and a half now and they still have not presented what the strategy is,” Boyle said. “So, I don’t get the impression that there’s anyone in the Trump White House that’s really seriously working on issues on bringing both sides together.”
Congressman Boyle says peace negotiations between the two neighboring states are vital.
Meanwhile, the Israeli flag will fly over Philadelphia for three days and nights.
A march for Palestine rally was also being held in Center City on Monday evening.