Jewish-American diplomat Dennis Ross, who among his many roles served as former President Barack Obama's Middle East adviser, revealed on Tuesday that already in 1989, then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin approached him and asked for preparations to begin to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“In 1989, Rabin asked me to act to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” said Ross at a panel he hosted at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem.
“I think we need to prepare the ground and the public opinion around the world for this. The Trump administration realizes that moving the embassy is an emotional issue and should not be done in haste,” he added.
Tuesday’s panel, which dealt with the changes, challenges and dilemmas in the geopolitical arena, was also attended by Elliot Abrams, former deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration, and by General Amos Gilad, who until recently served as the director of the Defense Ministry's Political-Military Affairs Bureau.
Abrams, who is considered close to President Donald Trump, spoke about the potential embassy move as well, saying, “In June we will know what is going on. Moving to Jerusalem is not a simple process. I would like to see steps being made in that direction - finding a location for the embassy, construction and so on. I would be happy if Trump would show that he took some steps in that direction. At the moment it does not seem that something is being done.”
Moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of Jerusalem being Israel’s capital was a central campaign promise of Trump’s.
Despite the campaign promises, however, things seem to have stalled. White House press secretary Sean Spicer recently told reporters that no decision has been made yet on the subject.
Trump himself appeared to back down a bit from his campaign pledge, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) last month that such a move would not be “easy”.
He said a decision on the matter will come “in the not-too-distant future”.
Tuesday’s panel also dealt with the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump has heavily criticized, saying it was “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated”.
Abrams opined that “American policy has no tools to act against Iran,” adding that he expects the U.S. administration “to work strongly against Iran on all levels, but not cancel the agreement.”
He said that U.S. policy against Iran should include working to stop it from transferring weapons to and financing terror groups, and to work towards the collapse of the regime “that is among the worst violators of human rights among in the world.”
Gilad said that the real threat in the region is Iran, which continues its acts of subversion, empowers and finance terrorists, and provides them with arms with missiles, particularly Hezbollah.
“ISIS will be defeated this year, but Iran will continue to grow stronger,” opined Gilad. Russia, he added, “will not stop Hezbollah but will not prevent Israel from acting against them. It is important not to take action against any Russian soldier because Russia’s situation in the region is very fragile and delicate.”
Gilad also estimated that Iran will not violate the nuclear agreement.
“It will wait until the end of the agreement, it has patience. It is important to understand the true long-term goal of Iran is the destruction of Israel, and that’s why the security cooperation between the United States and Israel is extremely important and we must work to increase it,” he said.