WASHINGTON – Rising criticism of the Obama administration’s decision to abstain in a United Nations Security Council vote to condemn Israel for building Jewish homes – even in the capital city of Jerusalem – could spur Donald Trump to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem sooner rather than later after assuming the presidency.
On Christmas Day, Haaretz, the strongest liberal newspaper voice in Israel, published an op-ed piece by Moshe Arens, a leader of the Likud Party and former Israel ambassador to the U.S., former defense minister and former foreign minister, strongly backing Trump’s campaign pledge to do just that.
Headlined “Obama Broke It, Trump Will Fix It: It’s Time to Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem,” the piece provided historical background on successive pledges by presidents to make such a move: “In 1995, both chambers of the U.S. Congress, with overwhelming bipartisan support, passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls for moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem and allocating funds for this purpose,” Arens wrote. “Since then, successive presidents have decided not to move the embassy, claiming presidential wavers on the grounds of national security.
“In Israel, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is seen as no more than recognizing the facts on the ground,” Arens continued. “It would mean correcting a decision made for the wrong reasons in Washington many years ago. It’s about time.”
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Trump’s Republican nemesis during the primary campaign, Ted Cruz, upped the ante even further, urging Trump to start the process of defunding the U.N. He added that he looks forward to working with Trump on that initiative.
Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. last week issued an impassioned endorsement Trump’s promise to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Ron Dermer, the Israeli envoy to Washington, made the statement less than a week after Trump announced his decision to nominate as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a supporter of Israel and its continued building of Jewish settlements and the shifting of the embassy from Tel Aviv.
Speaking at an Israeli embassy Hanukkah party, Dermer insisted that moving the U.S. diplomatic mission would be a “great step forward to peace,” rather than inflaming the Arab world, as critics of the idea have warned.
In addition, in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post Monday by Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, and Daniel Mandel, director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy, they noted the press is beginning to take seriously Trump’s pledge to move the embassy – something other presidents have promised but never did.
Trump Tweeted Friday, following the U.N. Security Council vote: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.” Trump had called on Obama to veto the resolution a day before the vote.
While some in the U.S. and Israel have suggested a move of the embassy could be provocative, perhaps inciting Palestinian violence and unrest, Obama’s decision to let the provocative anti-Israel resolution stand has already resulted in a riot this weekend in which several Israeli soldiers and Palestinians were injured.