After President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, much of the world sought to punish the United States. How dare we treat Israel as we do every other country on Earth and recognize the capital of their choice? The backlash spanned from the laughable “day of rage” declaration from Hamas to the disappointing motion backed by the vast majority of the United Nations General Assembly to render Trump’s move null and void.
New Neighbors in Jerusalem
The official move, according to a statement released by the State Department back in February, should happen in mid-May, timed to coincide with Israel’s 70th Independence Day.
And Guatemala will be joining us.
That’s right – while almost every other country in the world was against recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Guatemala was one of a handful of nations that voted against the UN resolution.
The Times of Israel reported that the Central American country began the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 1, and both the Guatemalan and U.S. embassies’ inaugurations will take place May 14. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, took to Twitter to deliver a warm welcome:
I was moved to see the flag of Guatemala waving in Jerusalem in advance of the opening of the Guatemalan embassy later this month. Dear friends, welcome back to our eternal capital! pic.twitter.com/eu3OnAA1hO
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 1, 2018
It’s About Time
Bill Clinton claimed during his presidential campaign that he supported moving the embassy to Jerusalem. In 2000, his last year as president, he said that he had always wanted to, but feared undermining “our ability to help to broker a secure and fair and lasting peace for Israelis and for Palestinians.”
In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which described Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and required the embassy to be moved by 1999. However, every president since has signed waivers every six months to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. Clinton did. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both did, and they made campaign promises on it. Of course, they lied.
“Something will happen when I’m president: as soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the US ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
“Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper – but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided. I have no illusions that this will be easy.”
According to Congress, Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since 1995 – it just took us 22 years to get a president with both the integrity and cojones to make the move.
More Neighbors to Come?
We almost certainly won’t be the only two nations to make the move. So, what flags might we see riding the same wind as Old Glory and Azuliblanco? Along with Guatemala, and of course, the United States and Israel, these are the nations that voted against the UN resolution: Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo.
Of the 35 nations that abstained from the vote, a few have openly supported Trump’s decision. The Czech Republic declared their recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital the very day Trump made his announcement. Speaker of Ghana’s parliament, Aaron Mike Oquaye, told Israel’s i24News, “Whatever Israel wants, we in Ghana will go by that because that is essentially an internal decision.” And Job Ndugai, the speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, had this to say:
“It is a very commendable decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I believe it will be followed suit by several African counties, Tanzania included, to move said quarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, because we believe where the parliament is… then the government should be there, and embassies should be there too.”
When the U.S. Leads, the World Follows
Whether or not these other nations make the move remains to be seen. However, there is no denying that when the U.S. steps up to lead, the world tends to follow. And as the vast majority of those countries that voted for the resolution against us receive U.S. foreign aid dollars, all Trump likely has to do to lead the world right to Jerusalem is to cut the flow of cash. Our ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said she was paying attention to who voted against the U.S. and taking names. And as she more recently told them, we aren’t seeing an acceptable return on our investment.
Yet this is about more than being a leading nation in global politics; it is about dignity. By what right does any other nation demand that a sovereign country recognizes one area as its capital over another? If Israel is indeed our partner and friend, we should respect their decision, those that do not, are not real friends.