Sunday, March 24, 2019

It’s a historic move without precedent. Twenty-two years of American foreign policy are set to be forever altered with the move of Israel’s US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But many in the organized Jewish community have seen this coming; Then-candidate Donald Trump made a campaign promise at the AIPAC conference in March, 2016, that he would move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

To a cheering, standing crowd of thousands in Washington, he said, “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem. And we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel. The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.” He repeated this statement multiple times over the course of his campaign.

This move has been met by many in the pro-Israel community as the culmination of a decades-long desire. “We are grateful for the president fulfilling his campaign promise and, indeed, American’s promise of recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel,” said Englewood’s Dr. Ben Chouake, founder and co-president of NORPAC.

“We realize this will be used as an excuse by many adversaries of Israel, led by anti-Semites, to cause trouble, but always been America’s policy to do the right thing and deal with America’s adversaries earlier rather than later. Bravo to this administration,” he added.

Trump’s triumvirate of advisers with close ties to the Zionist community is well-known, and it includes US Ambassador David Friedman, Special Representative for International Negotiations and Teaneck native Jason Greenblatt, along with Senior White House Aide and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

On Monday, it was widely reported that Trump had missed the deadline to sign the waiver to again delay implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which, since 1998 when it was implemented, has been signed by each sitting President every six months based on national security concerns. In 1995, the act overwhelmingly passed the Senate by a vote of 93 to 5 and by the House of Representatives by a vote of 374 to 37, but Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama have signed waivers semi-annually to delay the implementation based on their belief that its enactment would incite national security and foreign policy concerns. Trump, himself, signed the waiver once so far in his presidency, this past June.

At that time, The White House said the president still stood by his promise to move the embassy. “President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when,” a spokesman told the Times of Israel.

“It’s a question of when, not if,” the official said, adding that Trump “doesn’t think the timing is right, right now.” The official added: “In timing such a move, he will seek to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”

It appears the timing is now right for Trump. As it became clear that the White House would be honoring this campaign promise this week, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority lined up against the move along with the following countries: Jordan, France, Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Palestine, Morocco, Kuwait, Germany, Iraq and others. The Palestinian Authority said they would also cut off contacts with U.S. diplomats. And Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the region, cautioned against doing anything that would “obstruct the ongoing efforts to revive the peace process.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al-Jazeera that it will cut diplomatic ties with Israel over the reports. Such a move would be a “red line” for Muslims, he said on Tuesday.

According to JNS, Hamas on Saturday called to “renew the Jerusalem intifada,” while Abbas’s adviser, Mahmoud Habash, said that “the world will pay a price” for American recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Reports on Twitter noted that Hamas had designated this Friday as a “day of rage,” to protest the move.