At his press briefing yesterday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer three times addressed Jerusalem and repeatedly used the words “decision-making process” to characterize the lack of immediate action on Donald Trump’s promise to move the U.S. embassy there.
As I’ve noted yesterday, through several press inquiries, there’s no decision, we’re at the very early stages of that decision-making process.
As I noted, John, it’s very early in this process, we’re at the beginning stages of this decision-making process, and his team’s going to continue to consult with stake-holders as we get there.
I think I’ve answered it twice now. We are at the early stages in this decision-making process… There’s a reason you go through a decision-making process, and that’s what we’re in the process of starting right now, so I just don’t want to get ahead of– if it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through a process.
“Stake-holders” is not a good sign for embassy-movers; it surely refers to Trump’s phone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi yesterday. The Daily News says that the Trump administration is walking back the promise to move the embassy. CNN says he’s still committed, but is planning to move cautiously.
The New York Times reported that the Israeli media are on the edges of their seats awaiting such a move.
The Israeli news media was filled with speculation on Sunday that the Trump administration would immediately announce the embassy move — as a de facto recognition of Israel’s annexation of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which it captured from Jordan during the 1967 war.
And though Netanyahu and Trump had a friendly phone conversation on Sunday– “The White House seemed to seek to stifle speculation of any immediate announcement.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says he’s in talks with US officials to facilitate the move, but it won’t happen “in a day.” The Times of Israel:
“From the conversations I’ve had with US government officials, I know they are serious in their intentions [to move the embassy],” Barkat told Army Radio.
Shmuel Rosner sees the writing on the wall and expresses disappointment in the Jewish Journal:
Trump might have calculated that this is one election promise he can easily break without having to pay a heavy price for it…
Though he imagines scenarios under which Trump could follow through.
Trump will do it, if Trump gets something out of it… Trump could be saving it for later – for the Netanyahu visit in February, for the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, for Israel’s 50th Jerusalem Day in May. From a PR standpoint, saving Jerusalem for later is wise.
Oh: the blessed PR standpoint. Peter Beinart in the Forward echoes Arab leaders’ warnings that moving the embassy is not just about PR.
Unless they change course, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are going to get Jews killed.
Meantime, Netanyahu has approved hundreds more illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, presumably to provide more evidence to a dubious world that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
P.S. Rosner informs readers that he is on the record saying the embassy will move. My bet has been, and is, that it won’t.