President Donald Trump might be a step closer to fulfilling another one of his campaign promises.
Next week, the Trump administration is expected to announce their decision on whether or not they will move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Earlier this year, the president postponed the move to avoid impeding the peace process between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. However, Trump has already made it clear that moving the embassy to Jerusalem was a matter of “when” not “if.”
As you might imagine, moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a controversial issue. Those opposing the move argue that it will derail peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Others fear that it could ignite riots in other areas of the Middle East. Nevertheless, it is clear that relocating the embassy to Jerusalem is the right course of action.
Trump To Make An Announcement
If the U.S. decides to move the embassy, it won’t happen overnight. Politico recently reported that the Trump administration is considering keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv temporarily while they develop a long-term strategy to start the relocation process. This gradual approach is intended to “strike a middle ground on the politically treacherous issue,” according to two administration officials.
As if moving the embassy isn’t controversial enough, the administration is also considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many see the relocation of the embassy as a step towards the U.S. acknowledging Israeli sovereignty over Judaism’s holiest city.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. has looked at moving the embassy. In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act which stated that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” and that the U.S. should establish their embassy in the city “no later than May 31, 1999.”
Since then, each president has used a presidential-waiver clause that allowed them to postpone the move every six months.
A Powerful Message To Israel’s Enemies
Ever since the State of Israel was founded in 1948, it has been surrounded by enemies. After the refugee crisis began, Palestinians — with the help of Iran, Iraq, and other nations — have resorted to terrorism to push the Jewish state to give concessions. However, the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected Israel’s overtures for peace.
Israel’s enemies do not respond to concessions; each time Israel has given up land, they were met with more violence. When Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, withdrew from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians responded by putting Hamas — a radical Islamic terrorist group — in power. Thousands of Israelis were evicted from their homes, and the Palestinians rewarded them with more violence.
The Palestinians have made it clear that Israel’s attempts to appease them will not result in peace. Groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Al Qaeda would like nothing more than to eradicate the Jews in Israel. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would send a clear message to Israel’s enemies: you will not win with violence.
Delivering this message could pressure the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiating table. It may show groups like Hamas that time is not on their side in this conflict. Moreover, it will demonstrate to other terrorist groups that the United States is steadfast in its resolve to protect its ally.
Only Israel Will Ensure Religious Freedom
History has shown that when Jerusalem is under Muslim control, non-Muslims are not granted the same type of access. Between 1948 and 1967, they prevented Jews from visiting and worshipping in the city. They also removed 70% of the city’s Christians.
After Israel gained control of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan entered into an agreement allowing the Waqf, a Jordanian Muslim organization to administer the Temple Mount. Under the treaty, Jews are permitted to enter the Temple Mount site, but not worship there. Only Muslims are allowed to worship at the site, even though the Temple Mount is of tremendous religious and historical significance to the Jews.
If Israel were to lay claim to Jerusalem as their capital city, people of all faiths would have the religious freedom to worship where they please. Israeli law dictates that anyone living in the country has the freedom to practice their religion without interference from the government.
Israel is one of the United States’ strongest allies. It is the only western-style democracy in the Middle East. The U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Forces routinely collaborate with one another, and our intelligence agencies share intelligence. Our objectives and values are more closely aligned with Israel than with any other nation in the region. Recognizing Israel’s right to Jerusalem as their capital city is an important step in cementing our alliance.
Additionally, Jerusalem is already the de facto capital city of Israel. The Knesset, along with the offices of the Israeli prime minister and the president are located in Jerusalem. If we move our embassy to Jerusalem, we will be helping to protect the nation’s sovereignty in the face of growing anti-Semitism around the world.
Appeasement Doesn’t Work
The location of the U.S. embassy is a controversial issue; it seems that tensions between Israel and some of their neighbors are constantly primed to explode into a fight for the Jewish state’s survival. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we stand with our ally and protect their sovereignty.
The bottom line is that Israel’s enemies will not be persuaded by further appeasement; history has shown that giving them concessions only emboldens them. While it is important to work towards a viable peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it might be beneficial to carry the stick, while offering the carrot.