President Donald Trump applauds the audience after speaking at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Dallas, Friday, May 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump will not travel to Israel for the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, according to a White House statement released on Monday.

Instead, the U.S. delegation to the May 14 event will include U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as well as Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka Trump, who work as advisers to the president in the White House. 

Earlier this year, officials confirmed that the United States would relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May, coinciding with Israel's celebration of the 70th anniversary of its independence.

The decision sparked a furious reaction from Palestinians, who object to the US recognition of the disputed city as Israel's capital and call May 14 -- which in 2018 marks 70 years since Israel's declaration of independence -- Naqba, their "day of catastrophe."

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The choice of the date, a year earlier than originally forecast, is likely to further cloud efforts to restart peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, putting in greater doubt the traditional US role as an "honest broker."

In December last year, Trump broke with decades of policy to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, drawing near global condemnation, deeply angering the Palestinians and sparking days of unrest in the Palestinian territories.

Reuters and AFP