Will President Donald Trump fulfill his campaign promise of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as recent reports citing unnamed administration officials claim? Or will the president settle with a symbolic move of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as other senior sources have claimed?
Last week, a number of unnamed senior US and Israeli officials were cited in reports claiming that the Trump administration is planning on finally implementing 1995 law requiring the executive branch to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.
Other reports claimed that the White House was not planning an embassy move in the near future, but was poised to declare that it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
While White House officials publicly refused to verify the claims, officials in Jerusalem have noted the timing of Vice President Mike Pence’s comments at the 70th anniversary of the United States General Assembly vote on Resolution 181, endorsing the establishment of a Jewish state.
"President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Pence said last week.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva Sunday, journalist Caroline Glick said that the future of the US embassy in Israel would be decided over the next 24 hours, noting that the deadline for a presidential waiver allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv is on December 4th.
“Tomorrow, Monday, the fourth of December, is the deadline for the president to sign on the waiver, pushing off moving the embassy to Jerusalem for another six months.”
Under the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, the president is required to relocate the embassy, but may delay implementation for security purposes. Each waiver lasts for six months.
“Congress passed a law requiring the president to move the embassy to Jerusalem back in 1995, and every six months, each president from Bill Clinton to Trump has signed on the waiver.”
Citing sources within the Trump administration, Glick said that the president was preparing major changes in US policy this week, but added that officials had declined to give specifics.
“I understand from officials in the administration that something big is going to happen this week, but we’re going to have to just wait and see.”
Glick argued that the Republican base of Evangelical Christians, whose support was crucial in Trump’s 2016 election victory, were pressing the administration to live up to its campaign promise regarding the embassy in Israel. Glick suggested that Vice President’s visit to Israel this month was also no coincidence.
“The White House is keeping its cards close to its chest. But the fact that Vice President Mike Pence is coming here this week for a three-day visit isn’t a coincidence. Trump has a speech planned for Wednesday, and Jared Kushner will be speaking publicly for the first time [as advisor to the president] at the Saban Forum on Middle East policy. So there are a lot of important developments this week.”
Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and an announcement declaring the administration’s intentions to move the embassy would constitute a major departure from US policy, particularly under President Obama, which Glick says assiduously removed reference to Jerusalem as a part of Israel.
“Just saying that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is a pretty important move relatively speaking, especially after how the Obama administration made sure to erase the word ‘Israel’ from under every picture of Jerusalem. So a declaration like this would be important in negating the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic legacy of the Obama administration.”
“But as far as other embassies relocating to Jerusalem, that will only happen if the US embassy is moved there.”