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TEL AVIV – The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) has called on President Donald Trump to right a “historic injustice” and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Christian Zionist group issued a policy paper outlining proposals for how such a move could take place. It listed reasons why Jerusalem has not been accepted de jure as Israel’s capital: the first harks back to 1947 and the United Nations Partition Plan that delineated Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under international supervision. The second is the international community’s persistence in maintaining an “even-handedness” on the issue of Jerusalem and the third is “fear of a potential Islamic backlash.”
Therefore, the paper said, the current policy was not grounded in “fairness or historical right,” but based on “weakness and fear.”
Trump should “officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” and the upcoming Jerusalem Day marking 50 years since the city’s reunification in the 1967 Six Day War is an opportune time to move the embassy, the paper said.
It suggested a threefold approach to the move:
1) First, consult closely with the Israeli government to discuss various aspects of such a move and coordinate the necessary steps, as well as bilateral responses to any potential security challenges;
2) Second, confer with officials in key Arab and Muslim nations to address their concerns and elicit their cooperation; and
3) Third, identify and confer with countries friendly to the U.S. and Israel which might be open to moving their embassies to Jerusalem as well.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday reiterated his belief that all foreign embassies should relocate to Jerusalem, the “eternal capital of the Jewish people.” Indeed, as the ICEJ points out, many nations have placed their ambassadors and senior envoys to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The White House last week denied rumors that Trump has shelved plans for the embassy move and said that it remains under consideration, with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying the “president has not made a decision yet and is still reviewing that.”
However, on Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said it was not clear whether an embassy move would help or harm prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact the peace process,” Tillerson said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. He added that Trump would base his decision on the interests of all sides, but also consider “whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction.”