This morning the White House announced that the president has again waived the law passed by Congress in 1995 calling on him to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The White House said he did so in order to advance the hopes of a peace deal.
While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance. President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.
Netanyahu spoke to US Ambassador David Friedman on Monday in a final and apparently futile attempt to persuade US President Donald Trump to fulfill his campaign promise and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The Israel lobby group AIPAC is also disappointed:
We are disappointed that the president has not yet followed through on his pledge to move the embassy, and we hope that he does so soon.
Not many rightwing groups have issued statements. Today is a Jewish holiday, Shavuot.
Brad Jaffy from NBC News is among many unsurprised by the action:
Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both broke the same campaign promise as Trump. The reality of trying to negotiate a peace deal sets in.
Daniel Shapiro, Obama’s ambassador to Israel, says the U.S. should move the embassy later this year.
Trump was right to issue the Jerusalem embassy waiver today. But I hope it’s the last waiver, allowing the move later this year.
That will depend on preparing the ground: get I-P talks launched, get Arabs 2 put skin in the game. Use leverage 2 get all sides to play.
Why should we move the embassy? To shatter the “Pal myth,” Shapiro says:
Then establish the embassy in W Jerusalem. Shatter Pal myth that Israel has no Jerusalem claims & treat Jerusalem as the capital it is.
(Remember that Dan Shapiro is a committed Zionist— “this miracle, this gift, this jewel” — now working for an Israeli security thinktank. Some revolving door.)
Here is an earlier report by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights describing years of U.S. policy against recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and explaining that moving the embassy would legitimize ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem.
The liberal Zionist group J Street welcomed the decision, saying that while “Jerusalem is absolutely central to the history, culture and identity of the Jewish people,” it would be dangerous to move the embassy:
We are glad that the administration has heeded the advice of veteran officials in the diplomatic and security communities, and decided to maintain the prudent policy of its predecessors on this issue.
John Reed of the Financial Times comments:
The embassy non-move was so predictable that J Street sent out an embargoed press release welcoming it yesterday
Shapiro’s hopes spring eternal. The Israeli member of Knesset who took a selfie with Benjamin Netanyahu says he dreams of doing it again, in the Jerusalem embassy. From the JPost:
@oren_haz: I dont regret getting the selfie, but I hope this isnt bad omen. I hope in future I’ll take selfie w him in Jerusalem embassy
Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren said two days ago that the U.S. refusal to move the embassy is “inexplicable and prejudicial” and “really insane.” The Arab world won’t go up in flames if you move the Embassy, he said. “The president would have strengthened his hand in negotiation had he moved the embassy.” Because this is the Middle East, and people only respect strength and commitments. (Not that anyone can trust Oren’s judgment on any such thing.)