With Donald Trump about to enter the White House, there is intense debate around the world about a “promise” he has repeated in recent days, to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Here is some of that furor.
Many voices are counseling prudence. Like this ad in the Palestinian city of Nablus.
TODAY: Protest banner is seen in Nablus city, West Bank, condemning Trump's intention to move the US Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/MRIOoLlNjN
— Activestills (@activestills) January 19, 2017
The Institute for Middle East Understanding has put together an excellent video on the subject, explaining why the matter is an urgent issue for Zionists, but illegal in the eyes of the world.
Donald Trump becomes President today. His plan to move the US embassy would legitimize theft of Palestinian land.
No other country in the world maintains an embassy in Jerusalem.
WATCH: Why is soon-to-be President Donald Trump's plan to move the U.S. embassy such a big deal? pic.twitter.com/5m5IEd96uN
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) January 17, 2017
Nikki Haley, Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, said two days ago that she approved the idea, during her Senate hearing. Interestingly, the Associated Press began its report on her statement by saying the shift “could trigger more violence in the Middle East.”
Haley, Trump’s pick to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that she “absolutely” backs the embassy move because that’s what Israel and congressional Republicans want. But a spokesman for Jordan’s government recently told The Associated Press that the embassy move would be a “red line” for Amman and “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets.”
Haaretz is also concerned. Its story describes “scenarios of worsening violence.”
Netanyahu Briefed on Scenarios of Violence Should Trump Move Embassy to Jerusalem
Prime minister isn’t sure whether or when the incoming U.S. president would announce the embassy’s relocation, but has told defense officials to complete security preparations by the inauguration.
This online polling conveyed by Jeremy Saltan, Israeli analyst, suggests that most Israelis do not take Trump at his word on Jerusalem, though they do believe that he will license annexation of East Jerusalem and other territories in the West Bank.
Do you believe that Donald Trump will support moves of applying Israeli sovereignty in the territories in places like Maale Adumim and Ariel?
48% Yes, 30% No, 22% Don’t know
Do you believe Donald Trump will move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem as he promised during the elections?
46% No, 41% Yes, 13% Don’t know
Another dissenter. Last week James Mattis, Trump’s nominee for Defense Secretary, said at a hearing that the capital of Israel is Tel Aviv, because most government offices are there:
[Sen. Lindsey] Graham put Mattis on the spot, asking what the capital of Israel is.“The capital of Israel that I go to, sir, is Tel Aviv, sir, because that’s where all their government people are,” Mattis said.
Here’s Rashid Khalidi, commenting to Politico:
“Given how important the issue of Jerusalem is for Muslims around the world, and especially at a time when Islamist terrorist groups systematically exploit the Palestine issue, this will also constitute a potentially explosive provocation,” said Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia University’s Middle East Institute.
Here is Tom Friedman on CNN last week, calling the idea madness:
The United States position is that the ultimate disposition of Jerusalem remains to be negotiated by the two sides, and until it is, we’re going to keep our embassy in Tel Aviv. Now, moving the American embassy — and this is an evergreen, everyone running for President tosses this out, no one actually does it — moving the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, in the absence of an agreed upon solution between Israelis and Palestinians, I would call that the “Full Employment for Iran Act.”
Because I can tell you, Chris [Cuomo], the Iranians, oh, they would be clinking glasses over that because what the Iranians would then do is make a huge issue of this, paint the Americans as a pro, a basically fanatical right-wing supporter of the worst kind in Israel. And that would then embarrass all the Sunni Arab regimes. They would have to do something, enormously complicating, by the way, Israel’s relations with them, but also with their relations with us. This would put Egypt, Saudi Arabia in a very awkward position… This is such madness that it’s — it’s just — I can’t believe we’re talking about it.
Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, imam of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, said the move would be tantamount to a “declaration of war.”
Last night Chris Matthews said that it would be crazy for Trump to follow through on the promise. He has been outspoken on the question, saying that Arab capitals could blow up with such provocation.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has set up a website for Israelis to welcome Trump. Barkat’s video message to the incoming president thanks Trump for the promise to move the US embassy “to the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Here is Trump himself, responding to the newspaper Israel Hayom on Tuesday night:
Asked by the paper Tuesday night at the Chairman’s Global Dinner in Washington, DC — an exclusive black tie event for diplomats and members of the incoming administration — if “you have not forgotten your promise concerning the embassy in Jerusalem,” Trump responded that “of course I remember what I said about Jerusalem.”
“You know that I am not a person who breaks promises.”
And here is incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, when asked the Jerusalem question yesterday:
“What I can tell you is stay tuned. There will be a further announcement on that,” Mr. Spicer said at a press conference.
The Republican Jewish Coalition is very excited. So is an Israeli developer, whose billboard wain is encouraging the move in the Jerusalem photo tweeted by Haaretz reporter Uri Blau, below:
We’ll update as the day progresses.