Trump envoy: Embassy move necessary step for peace

Jason Greenblatt hails relocation of US embassy, says move was 'necessary' step towards peace. 'America will always stand with Israel.'

David Rosenberg,

Jason Greenblatt
Jason Greenblatt
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Special White House envoy Jason Greenblatt lauded the administration’s decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying that the historic move was a “necessary condition” for achieving peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Greenblatt, who joined the 250-member US delegation to Israel for the unveiling of the new US embassy in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem on Monday, released a statement in a series of tweets Monday morning just hours before the grand opening of the embassy.

“As we begin this historic day, let's remember why we are here and how we got here. The bipartisan 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act urging this move was reaffirmed by the Senate unanimously in 2017,” Greenblatt wrote.

Trump’s envoy said past efforts by US administrations to seek peace while delaying implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act and withholding recognition of the city as Israel’s capital failed time and again to deliver a comprehensive peace deal.

“More than two decades of waivers delaying the Embassy move brought us no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“Seventy years ago the United States, under President Truman, became the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Israeli Supreme Court and is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President, as well as the headquarters of many government ministries.”

The US, Greenblatt continued, long ignored the reality of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, in the hopes that by doing so it could forge a peace between Israel and its neighbors.

“As the President stated in December, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is simply a recognition of reality. Israel is a sovereign nation, and like every other sovereign nation, it has the right to determine its own capital. Notwithstanding the best of intentions, a bipartisan Act of Congress, and campaign promises, for 70 years we neglected to extend this basic courtesy to Israel that we extend to other countries.”

Greenblatt said the decision to recognize the “reality” that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital would “facilitate” peace in the region, and was in fact a “necessary condition” for an long-term solution.

“It is time to change that and show that America will always stand with Israel. Taking the long-overdue step of moving our Embassy is not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal. Rather, it is a necessary condition for it.”

“The U.S. continues to support preserving the status quo at holy sites. We remain committed to advancing an agreement between the parties that leads to a lasting and comprehensive peace.”

“Let’s also remember: Jerusalem is the heart of three great religions, as well as the capital of one of the most successful democracies in the world. It is, and must remain, a city in which Jews pray at the Western Wall, Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa. Thank you @POTUS for your bold, courageous and historic decision!”

Ahead of the opening ceremony Monday, Greenblatt joined Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat for a breakfast reception in the capital.

The 250-member US delegation to Israel for the embassy unveiling includes Ambassador David Friedman, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and dozens of lawmakers including Florida Governor Rick Scott, Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Dean Heller, and Lindsay Graham.