Thank you, President Trump

Promises made and kept proved to many that President Donald Trump was "the most pro-Israel president ever."

Ido Ben Porat ,

Trump with Netanyahu
Trump with Netanyahu

While the precise nature of the “Trump legacy” is likely to remain a matter of contentious debate in the world for years, or more likely, decades to come, the impression and impact made by President Donald Trump in the State of Israel is far easier to define. After just four years, Trump, in the eyes of many, achieved more forward movement than American administrations had achieved in much longer, to the extent that he is hailed in many quarters as “the most pro-Israel president ever.”

In Israel and at Israel’s Side

Even before he was elected, Trump promised that the State of Israel would be on his itinerary during his very first trip abroad as President, and he kept that promise, landing at Ben Gurion Airport on May 22, 2017. He met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin, and became the first serving American President to visit the Western Wall.

Trump and his entourage also visited Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum, where he made a speech declaring that under his leadership, the United States would stand firmly at Israel’s side and that Iran’s ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons would not be realized.

Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital

In December of that year, Donald Trump announced that the United States would henceforth recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and that the American embassy would shortly be moved from Tel Aviv to the capital city. In a speech given at the White House on December 7, Trump stated:

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

“I have judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement.

“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”

The long-awaited ceremony of moving the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was held on May 14, 2018. Attending were the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner, as well as the American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and other senior administration officials.

“This city, and the entire nation, are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people,” Trump said in a video greeting he sent to the ceremony.

Withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal

Also in May 2018 came another significant step: President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear agreement with Iran that had been signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, stating:

“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iranian deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon. Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

He noted, in the same speech, that, “We have definitive proof that this Iranian promise [that they only want nuclear power for peaceful purposes] was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents … conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons … [Therefore, we will] begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction … America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.”

A month later, on June 20, the United States announced that it would be leaving the United Nations’ “Human Rights Council.” Nikki Haley, then U.S. ambassador to the UN, criticized the HRC as “an organization that is not worthy of its name,” and made special note of “its chronic bias against Israel.” Responding to the decision, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that it was a “courageous” decision and “an unequivocal statement that enough is enough.”

Settlements not an Impediment to Peace

The following year, in March 2019, in a ceremony at the White House to which Prime Minister Netanyahu was invited, President Trump signed a presidential decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which are vital for the security of both Israel and the surrounding region,” Trump said.

It was another bold move, after which the subsequent statement in November of the same year came as less of a surprise – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the “settlements” in Judea and Samaria were not in violation of international law.

Welcoming this about-turn from decades of American foreign policy, Netanyahu responded that, “The United States has now adopted an important policy that corrects a historical injustice.” His spokesman added that, “This policy recognizes … our people’s long-standing historical connection to Israel. We thank President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo, and the U.S. administration for standing firm.”

The Soleimani Assassination

The assassination of the Iranian Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, in January 2020 was another example of the United States “standing firm.” The assassination was carried out near Baghdad International Airport, and also left the deputy commander of the Shiite militias, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, dead.

Following the attack, Trump tweeted a picture of the United States flag, and the Pentagon issued a statement saying that: “This attack was designed to deter Iran from making future attacks. The United States will continue to take all necessary steps to protect our people and our interests around the world.”

The Deal(s) of the Century

On January 28, 2020, Prime Minister Netanyahu arrived in Washington D.C. to attend the presentation of President Trump’s peace plan, billed as a unique approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict that had the potential to succeed where previous leaders had failed. The plan included American recognition of Israeli settlement in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley; the establishment of a Palestinian state with clearly demarcated borders; and the maintenance of the status quo in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.

The Deal failed to get off the ground due largely to staunch Palestinian opposition to its terms, but future deals, signed in September 2020, virtually sidelined the Palestinians from a broader movement toward Middle East peace, when both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalization agreements with Israel.

These “Abraham Accords” were brokered by Trump administration officials and culminated in treaty-signing ceremonies at the White House, attended by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Ben Zayed, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdel a-Latif a-Ziani, President Trump, and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Parting Message

And, in what may turn out to be the final message from the Trump administration that the President has been “the most pro-Israel president ever,” Secretary of State Pompeo announced last month that U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem would have the option of listing their birthplace as “Israel.

For all these do we thank you, President Trump.