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High Anxiety Before Trump’s Israel Trip

Jacob Kornbluh

Will Trump Fulfill Campaign Promises?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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SHATTERED FANTASY “Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would not harm the peace process,” Netanyahu said. “On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting a historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel”

S peculation is rampant that President Trump may announce a plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on his coming trip to Israel, a move long sought by Jerusalem and its pro-Israel supporters. But speculation equally centers on Trump’s plans to enforce the status quo and leave the embassy in Tel Aviv, a move that would please America’s Arab allies and throw a bone to the peace process.

So Trump’s Israel trip, scheduled for May 22 to May 24, has raised the anxiety level both on the left and the right, given his unpredictable nature.

Last year at AIPAC, candidate Trump promised to immediately “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” In a position paper released six days before the election, Trump’s advisors, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, suggested that “the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.”

But since taking office in January, Trump has played coy. First, in an interview with a Christian broadcast network, Trump reassured the pro-Israel community that he had “always liked the concept of doing it” and would decide in the not-too-distant future. Then Vice President Mike Pence upped the ante, telling AIPAC the president is “giving serious consideration” to moving the embassy.

Alan Dershowitz: I think [Trump] is going to announce that during his administration, the US embassy will move to Jerusalem, but it will take negotiations with US allies to bring about an exact time schedule

The latest tease came from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who, in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, said that any decision to move the embassy would require consultations with both parties to see if it would advance the peace process.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, perhaps hearing official hesitation in Tillerson’s remarks, issued a statement Sunday clearly articulating the Israeli position. “Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would not harm the peace process,” Netanyahu said. “On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting a historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

Trump has been surprisingly disciplined in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, meeting with both sides and promising a new approach. Hence the anticipation that Trump will marry his warm words with action and announce the embassy relocation or declare US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“I think his message will be that he wants to make a deal, and he wants to see both sides come to the negotiation table and offer compromises in the interest of making peace,” said Prof. Alan Dershowitz. “I think there will be a combination of carrots to both sides and possibly even some sticks. I think he is going to announce that during his administration, the US embassy will move to Jerusalem, but it will take negotiations with US allies to bring about an exact time schedule.”

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 660. Jacob Kornbluh is also the political reporter for JewishInsider.com.

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