Trump Back­ers Swal­low Jerusalem Re­ver­sal

Forward Magazine - - News - By Nathan Guttman Wash­ing­ton

Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to sign a waiver post­pon­ing the re­lo­ca­tion of the U.S. Em­bassy in Is­rael to Jerusalem has put many Trump sup­port­ers in the pro-Is­rael com­mu­nity in an awk­ward po­si­tion. Trump’s prom­ise to move the em­bassy was a key sell­ing point to Is­rael ad­vo­cates be­fore the elec­tions, and helped build strong sup­port within the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.

Now, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu is tak­ing a cau­tious ap­proach, try­ing both to please his po­lit­i­cal base, which feels strongly about Jerusalem, and to main­tain good re­la­tions with the White House. “Though Is­rael is dis­ap­pointed that the em­bassy will not move at this time, we ap­pre­ci­ate to­day’s ex­pres­sion of Pres­i­dent Trump’s friend­ship to Is­rael and his com­mit­ment to moving the em­bassy in the fu­ture,” Ne­tanyahu said in a care­fully worded state­ment June 1, mak­ing sure not to sound too crit­i­cal of Trump.

Ne­tanyahu set the tone for oth­ers on the right who were strug­gling with their re­sponse. Is­rael Hayom, the Is­raeli news­pa­per owned by Repub­li­can megadonor Shel­don Adel­son and known for its sup­port for Trump and Ne­tanyahu, sought to find a sil­ver lin­ing in the de­ci­sion. The pa­per’s ed­i­tors chose the head­line “Trump Signs a Waiver Post­pon­ing Re­lo­ca­tion of Em­bassy to Jerusalem,” adding

im­me­di­ately that ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials stressed that Pres­i­dent Trump is com­mit­ted to even­tu­ally hon­or­ing his cam­paign prom­ise.

Chris­tians United for Is­rael, the largest pro- Is­rael or­ga­ni­za­tion in Amer­ica, fol­lowed the same line, ex­press­ing dis­ap­point­ment with Trump’s de­ci­sion while re­main­ing “hope­ful that he will ful­fill his cam­paign pledge and move the U.S. Em­bassy in Is­rael to Jerusalem.” CUFI, which lob­bied force­fully for re­lo­cat­ing the em­bassy, stressed that “the pres­i­dent knows that Jerusalem is the eter­nal and un­di­vided cap­i­tal of Is­rael and we strongly be­lieve that the lo­ca­tion of our em­bassy should re­flect that re­al­ity.”

Fur­ther to the right, dis­ap­point­ment with Trump was vis­i­ble.

A White House state­ment jus­ti­fied Trump’s move by say­ing that de­lay­ing the em­bassy re­lo­ca­tion would “max­i­mize the chance of suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­at­ing a deal be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans.” But Naf­tali Ben­nett, leader of Is­rael’s Jewish Home party, ar­gued that “de­lay­ing the U.S. Em­bassy move will, in fact, have an op­po­site af­fect and dam­age the prospect of a last­ing peace by nur­tur­ing false ex­pec­ta­tions among the Pales­tini­ans re­gard­ing the divi­sion of Jerusalem, which will never hap­pen.”

But what­ever crit­i­cism Trump may have sus­tained from the right, he made up for it with sur­pris­ing praise from the left. The dovish or­ga­ni­za­tion J Street wel­comed Trump’s de­ci­sion to sign the waiver, which it de­scribed as a needed move. “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,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment.

And in yet another sign of chang­ing times, the Pales­tinian Author­ity also wel­comed Trump’s de­ci­sion. Husam Zom­lot, the Pales­tinian rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Wash­ing­ton, said the pres­i­dent’s move “gives peace a chance.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Go­ing Nowhere: Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu says he is ‘dis­ap­pointed’ that Amer­ica’s em­bassy will stay in Tel Aviv.

WIKIMEDIA

Un­happy: Naf­tali Ben­net, Is­rael’s min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion, said that Trump’s re­ver­sal would make it harder to achieve peace.

WIKIMEDIA

Pleased: Husam Zom­lot, the Pales­tinian Author­ity’s Wash­ing­ton rep­re­sen­ta­tive hailed Trump’s move.

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