State Department to Israel: Temper response to Jerusalem move

United States asking Israel to temper its response to Jerusalem recognition, fearing backlash.

Ben Ariel ,

State Department building
State Department building

The United States is asking Israel to temper its response to the recognition of Jerusalem as its capital because Washington expects a backlash and is weighing the potential threat to U.S. facilities and people, according to a State Department document seen by the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

“While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the document dated said in talking points for diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to convey to Israeli officials.

“We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world. We are still judging the impact this decision will have on U.S. facilities and personnel overseas,” the document added.

A second State Department document seen by Reuters said the agency had formed an internal task force “to track worldwide developments” following the U.S. decision on Jerusalem.

A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was standard to set up a task force “any time there is a concern about the safety and security of U.S. government personnel or U.S. citizens.”

The State Department would not comment on either document.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that he had ordered the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. It is believed the embassy move could take three to four years.

Following Trump’s announcement, U.S. embassies across the Middle East and Europe warned Americans of the potential for violent protests.

American embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany, and Britain issued security alerts calling on Americans to employ vigilance and caution within minutes of the announcement, and other embassies are expected to follow with similar announcements.

The first document, according to Reuters, also laid out talking points for officials at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, the U.S. Embassies in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome and the U.S. mission to the European Union in Brussels.

In its message for the European capitals, the document asked European officials to argue that Trump’s decision did not prejudge so-called “final status” issues that Israel and the Palestinians need to hammer out in any peace agreement.

“You are in a key position to influence international reaction to this announcement and we are asking you to amplify the reality that Jerusalem is still a final status issue between Israelis and Palestinians and that the parties must resolve the dimensions of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem during their negotiations,” it said.

“You know that this is a unique Administration. It makes bold moves. But it is bold moves that are going to be needed if peace efforts are finally going to be successful,” the document added.

Hamas has called for “days of rage” in the wake of Trump’s announcement, while Iran threatened Israel with an “intifada” following the announcement.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) blasted Trump’s move as well, with its secretary-general Saeb Erekat saying it destroys any hopes for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.