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Gazans bury dead after bloody protests

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May 15, 2018

At least 43 Palestinians have died in the deadliest day of fighting since the border protests began.

Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, President Donald Trump has declared a "great day" for Israel as his top aides celebrated the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem as a campaign promised fulfilled.

Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, led the US delegation with a single message: Only Trump had the courage to act on what America has wanted for a long time.

"While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American Embassy once they were in office, this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it," Kushner said.

The relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital. Protests roiled the Gaza border, resulting in at least 37 Palestinians killed, officials said.

In a video address that aided at the ceremony's opening, Trump said the move to Jerusalem has been a "long time coming," after the US had "failed to acknowledge the obvious" for many years. Trump said he remained committed to "facilitating a lasting peace agreement," and that he was "extending a hand of friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbours."

Earlier that morning on Twitter, Trump urged people to watch the ceremony on television and declaring the day "A great day for Israel!" As the ceremony began, he wrote: "Big day for Israel. Congratulations!"

Likewise, Trump's aides also made no direct reference to the climbing death toll. In a Fox News interview, Mnuchin repeatedly referenced Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said Trump should be praised for "taking action" to keep Americans and people in the Middle East safe.

"The president is making difficult decisions because they are what he believes are the right long term decisions and not just kicking the can down the road," Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin also said "it's not coincidental" that the embassy move coincided with Trump's announcement that he planned to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.

The embassy celebration was widely considered a snub by the Palestinians. Roughly 800 guests were expected to attend. US officials said last week that Trump's delegation was not planning on meeting Palestinian officials during their visit. The Trump administration in recent months also has slashed US aid to the Palestinians and programs that support them.

Trump's policy is a sharp departure from past administrations, which have tried to position America as a neutral party ready to broker a peace deal.

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