Trump Moves Ahead With Embassy Relocation: Report
The incoming White House team has already begun informing U.S. allies in the Middle East and Gulf about President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a report by CNN.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed in 1995, stated that “the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” An inbuilt waiver authority allowed the president to postpone the move, in the interests of “national security,” for six-monthly periods. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have all issued waivers at six-month intervals ever since. The last waiver was issued on December 1, 2016.
In his address to AIPAC last March, Trump promised to “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” In a position paper on Israel, released six days before the election, Trump’s advisors, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt – both of who were appointed to positions that will deal with the matter – suggested that even before negotiations take place between Israel and the Palestinians, “the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”
Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry and the Palestinian Authority recently warned Trump about the high price the U.S. would pay if it moves ahead with the plan to relocate the embassy. Senior Palestinian officials have warned that the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s 1993 recognition of Israel is in danger of being revoked if Trump moves ahead with the embassy relocation. In a letter sent to Trump, President Mahmoud Abbas warned that moving the embassy “will likely have [a] disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region, since Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts with international law.”
But according to several media reports, Trump is determined to follow through on his campaign promise, albeit a specific date has not been revealed.
In a draft letter, published by Foreign Policy on Tuesday, Congressional Republicans urge Trump to “take swift action to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem as soon as you take office.”
“Moving the embassy will strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States and send a clear message to the world that we support Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as its eternal capital,” the lawmakers state.
A recent bill introduced by Dean Heller (R-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and withholds some of the State Department’s funds until the embassy is relocated to Jerusalem. “It is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz said in a statement.
According to the monthly Peace Index Poll, published on Tuesday, fifty percent of the Jewish Israeli public, including 63 percent on the Right, expect that Trump will uphold his promise to move the embassy, while 35 percent think it will be delayed amid pressure from the Arab world.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told Jewish Insider that it is in the national interests of the U.S. and Israel that the move is coordinated with the Saudis and Gulf allies. “Israel is now having very good relations not only with the Saudis but also with the Emirates, and that should not be endangered,” he said. “I think it should be done ultimately with the agreement of the Saudis, and I think that could be made to happen by smart negotiations.”