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Israelis Don’t Care If the U.S. Moves Its Embassy

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U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Getty)

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would confer no substantial benefit to Israel.

By Shalom Lipner / Politico
May 18, 2017


[President Trump] could authorize the move because he wants to keep his campaign promise, because America prides itself in doing the honorable thing or just because it makes sense. But he shouldn’t do it as a misplaced favor to the people of Israel. They can live without it. Especially now, in light of new allegations about Trump sharing confidential data with Russia, it’s clear that efforts to build Israeli confidence in his leadership can be invested more intelligently.


[Ed. note: There are 82 foreign embassies in Israel, none of them in Jerusalem.]

Presidents are used to receiving unsolicited advice. Here’s something for President Donald Trump to ponder as he packs his bags for Israel: Many Israelis really don’t care whether the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem.

Latest reports now suggest that Trump has decided to forestall such a move for the forseeable future. His path to this destination, after indications that he would eschew the example of all his predecessors, has been tortuous.

Celebrating Israel’s 69th independence day at the White House, Vice President Mike Pence recently reprised administration rhetoric on the matter. “The president of the United States, as we speak,” he told applauding party-goers in the Indian Treaty Room, “is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a more tentative figure over the weekend, possibly foreshadowing Trump’s plans to indeed exercise his presidential waiver and leave the embassy where it stands. When Tillerson tried passing the buck, suggesting that Israel might view the move as “perhaps a distraction” to a peace initiative, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back that “the contrary” was in fact true. Adding to the confusion, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Tuesday, “Obviously, I believe that the capital should be Jerusalem and the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem because if you look at all their government is in Jerusalem. So much of what goes on is in Jerusalem and I think we have to see that for what it is.”

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Pence: Israel Embassy Move Under “Serious Consideration”

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The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, where all other countries have their embassies. (photo: Jack Guez / Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

By The Associated Press / The New York Times
May 2, 2017


“The president of the United States, as we speak, is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. . . . To be clear, the president has also personally committed to resolving the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.”
— Vice President Mike Pence


President Donald Trump is giving “serious consideration” to moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday, the day before a scheduled White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Trump is also “personally committed” to becoming the U.S. president who finally ends the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pence said.

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a politically charged act that would anger Palestinians who want east Jerusalem, which was captured in 1967, as a future capital and part of their sovereign territory. Such a move would also distance the U.S. from most of the international community, including its closest allies in Western Europe and the Arab world.

[Editor’s note: There are 82 foreign embassies in Israel, none of which are in Jerusalem.]

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Trump Renews Vow for Jerusalem Embassy, a Gift of Uncertain Value

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The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, where all other countries have their embassies. (photo: Jack Guez / Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

No other government has its embassy in Jerusalem.

By Ian Fisher and Isabel Kershner / the New York Times
January 19, 2017


“Why would a president-elect decide to begin his presidency by playing with the blood of Palestinians and Israelis? Why? For whose sake? . . . This will destroy us as Palestinian moderates. This will bring extremism to the region.”
— Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator


It started, as it has in American presidential races for decades, as a campaign line, one that weary Israelis and Palestinians hear but rarely take seriously: Donald J. Trump promised to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

But by Thursday, the eve of Mr. Trump’s inauguration, those decades of promises seemed very real — with reverberations far beyond stone and cement.

Mr. Trump himself made perhaps his strongest statement on the issue on Thursday, telling a conservative Israeli news outlet, “You know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”

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Dear Trump Administration: Don’t Mess With Jerusalem

MIDEAST US ELECTIONS

Supporters of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump attend an election campaign rally, Jerusalem, Oct 26, 2016. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could ignite a spark that would set the entire region aflame. It’s just not worth it.

By James J. Zogby / +972 Magazine
January 17, 2017

[The author is the president of the Arab American Institute.]


Palestine may have dropped off the radar for a time, but it remains “the open wound in the heart, that never heals.” Violating Jerusalem and unrest in occupied Palestinian lands would rip the scab off that wound reminding Arabs of their vulnerability and their inability to control their history in the face of betrayal by the West. Ignore this passion and there will be consequences.


In just a matter of days, President-elect Donald Trump will have to decide on whether or not to make good on his promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As we approach Inauguration Day, liberal and conservative commentators alike have offered a number of ideas as to how he can proceed. Ranging from “too cute by half” to just plain dumb, they should all be rejected. More to the point, all of the proposals I have seen focus exclusively on Israeli concerns, ignoring or giving short shrift to Palestinian and broader Arab or Muslim concerns and sensitivities.

On the one side, there are proposals from hardliners who advise Trump to just go ahead and make the move. They argue that in fulfilling his campaign promise he will appease his base and gain international respect for being a strong and decisive leader. They dismiss Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim opinions, relying on the false assumptions that there is diminished concern across the Arab world for the Palestinian issue or making the racist case that Arabs respect strength and will ultimately become reconciled to a U.S. move.

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Jerusalem’s Status Won’t Be as Easy to Settle as Other Real Estate Deals. (Here’s Why.)

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An Israeli flag waves in front of the minaret of a mosque in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on Nov. 14, 2016. (photo: Thomas Coex / AFP)

By Brent E. Sasley / The Washington Post
December 25, 2016


The “let’s make a deal” approach assumes that each negotiating party has a series of material things that can be traded off. In this approach, both sides understand they will be better off with more than they currently have. But that doesn’t apply to a place like Jerusalem, or to conflicts like it.


President-elect Donald Trump has set the foreign policymaking world on edge with his and his team’s repeated insistence that as president he will move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The goal: support Israel’s claim to the city as its “undivided, eternal capital.” By nominating David Friedman — who agrees with that position — to be ambassador to Israel, Trump apparently emphasizes this commitment.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resisted resolution for decades. But Trump has insisted that “a deal is a deal” and that because he is “a negotiator,” he will be successful where others were not. In this case, presumably Trump plans to offer the Palestinians compensation to accept Israel’s claims to Jerusalem.

But it is not that simple.

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Israel Needs Its Arab Friends More Than U.S. Embassy Move

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Haram esh-Sharif, Jerusalem. (photo: Lubomir Mihalik)

By Eli Lake / BloombergView
December 21, 2016


It’s fair to ask how much worse things could get on the Palestinian street. Still, the Israelis have a lot to lose behind the scenes. Part of this is because of the rise of Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia, who were bitter enemies for the first half-century of the Jewish State’s existence, today are quiet partners in trying to check Iran’s rise. The same is true with the United Arab Emirates. With Egypt and Jordan, Israel has peace treaties, which explicitly state that the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations.


For the last eight years the American president has approached the Jewish state the way a do-gooder deals with an alcoholic friend. You know the pose: Because we care so much about your long-term survival, we want to help you end your addiction to apartment construction in East Jerusalem.

To put it mildly, Donald Trump has a different perspective. It’s not just that he has nominated his bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, an enthusiast of greater Israel, to be his ambassador there. Nor is it the elimination of language about a “two-state solution” in the Republican Party’s platform for 2016. It’s that the incoming president’s administration is promising to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem after the election.

It’s been the other way since the 1980’s. Usually presidents promise to move the embassy in the campaign and break that promise while in office. Trump looks like he is going to keep his word. As Friedman said in a statement last week, he looks forward to conducting his official diplomatic business “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

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Relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is Illegal

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The Jerusalem site formerly known as the Allenby Barracks, a possible location of the US Embassy. (photo: Raphael Ahren / Times of Israel)

The proposed move is a reckless provocation.

By Palestinian Square
December 14, 2016


“With all that Jerusalem connotes, it is, to say the least, unbecoming for the United States’ future embassy in that city to be built on land that is stolen property.”


Kellyanne Conway, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager, has stated that relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “a big priority” for the incoming administration. She added, “It is something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish-Americans have expressed their preference for.”

Meanwhile, in a passage that has since been removed from the online article, the Times of Israel has reported that the Trump transition team “has begun exploring the logistics of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, and checking into sites for its intended new location,” adding that the site being considered was formerly the location of the Allenby Barracks, the site of the British army’s Jerusalem garrison during the Mandate.

However, as is revealed by Walid Khalidi’s SPECIAL REPORT on the subject, originally published in the Journal of Palestine Studies, the site being considered is Palestinian private property stolen from its owners, including the waqf [an endowment made to a religious, educational, or charitable cause] property of several families. (more…)

What Could Happen if Trump Moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?

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Proposed site of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Getty Images via Economist)

By Rebecca Shabad / CBS News
December 20, 2016


“Even though the peace process is, I think, comatose and is unlikely to advance in the near term, why overload the circuits and potentially take a step that could permanently undermine the prospects of a two-state solution? You’re simply going to feed Iranian propaganda, you’re going to feed Sunni-jihadi propaganda and most likely, you’re going to trigger a fair amount of violence and even terror.”
— Aaron David Miller, The Woodrow Wilson Center


Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may have been one of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises, but experts and Palestinian officials are warning of serious consequences if he follows through.

“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem — and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the powerful Jewish lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March.

Last week, in an indication of Mr. Trump’s seriousness, he announced that he would nominate bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to serve as ambassador to Israel. Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, made clear in a statement that he looks forward to doing the job from “the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush, called Friedman’s nomination a “serious mistake” in an op-ed in The New York Times over the weekend.

“The consequences of acting upon Mr. Friedman’s public suggestions are clearly dangerous. Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem — not a pressing issue for most Israelis — will inspire riots across the Islamic world,” Kurtzer wrote. (more…)

Trump’s Pick for Envoy to Israel Expects Embassy in Jerusalem

A general view of Jerusalem's old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount

A view of Jerusalem’s old city showing the Dome of the Rock. (photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters)

By Yara Bayoumy / Reuters
December 16, 2016


In an interview with Israeli left-leaning newspaper Haaretz, in June, Friedman was asked whether Trump would support the creation of an independent Palestinian state — a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy which supports a two-state solution. “The answer is: not without the approval of the Israelis. . . . He does not think it is an American imperative for it to be an independent Palestinian state.”


President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday he will nominate bankruptcy attorney David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Friedman said he looked forward to taking up his post in Jerusalem, implying a move from Tel Aviv that would mark a break in longstanding U.S. foreign policy and anger the Muslim world.

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump pledged to switch the embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been located for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel’s capital regardless of international objections.

“[Friedman] has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East,” Trump said in a statement issued by his team on Thursday.

The Republican made clear during his campaign that he would support Israel in a number of critical areas, said he would not put pressure on Israel to engage in talks with the Palestinians.

The United States and other powers do not regard Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Other nations embassies are located in Tel Aviv — and do not recognize Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following its capture in the 1967 Middle East war. (more…)

U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem?

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Photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters

Trump Promises, but So Did Predecessors

By Peter Baker / New York Times
November 18, 2016


“Every president who reversed his campaign promise did so because he decided not to take the risk. . . . Jerusalem has historically been an issue that provoked great passions — often as a result of false claims — that did trigger violence.”


America’s top diplomat in Jerusalem lives in an elegant three-story stone house first built by a German Lutheran missionary in 1868, a short walk from the historic Old City. But he is not an ambassador and the mission is a consulate, not an embassy.

For decades, those distinctions have rankled many Israeli Jews. The United States, along with the rest of the world, has kept its primary diplomatic footprint not in Israel’s self-declared capital, Jerusalem, but in the commercial and cultural hub of Tel Aviv to avoid seeming to take sides in the fraught and never-ending argument over who really has the right to control this ancient city.

Until now. Maybe.

President-elect Donald J. Trump vowed during his campaign that he would relocate the mission “fairly quickly” after taking office. That in itself is nothing new: For years, candidates running for president have promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and for years, candidates who actually became president have opted against doing so.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

Editor’s note: The U.N. Security has consistently maintained that East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 War, is occupied territory subject to the Geneva Convention. The Security Council has declared Israel’s attempt to make Jerusalem the “eternal and indivisible” capital of Israel to be in violation of international law. There are 82 foreign embassies in Israel, none of them is located in Jerusalem.