President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, officials say.
Trump’s announcement is expected next week and follows months of internal deliberations that grew particularly intense in recent days, officials familiar with the talks said Thursday. They described the president as intent on fulfilling his pledge to move the embassy but also mindful that doing so could set back his aim of forging a long-elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim part of Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual state.
The officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the outlines of Trump’s plan emerged from a meeting of his top national security advisers at the White House on Monday. Trump himself was expected to drop by the meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. He ended up staying for at least an hour and grew increasingly animated during the session, according to two officials briefed on what happened.
Trump is likely to issue a waiver on moving the embassy by Monday, officials said, though they cautioned that the president could always decide otherwise.
The White House also is considering a possible presidential speech or statement on Jerusalem by Wednesday, according to the officials and an outside administration adviser. Another possibility involves Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to travel to Israel in mid-December, making the Jerusalem announcement during his trip, one official said. Pence said Tuesday that Trump is “actively considering when and how” to move the embassy.
The Trump administration insisted the president hasn’t made any decisions on the embassy.
White House spokesman Sarah Sanders on Wednesday called an earlier report saying Trump would order an embassy move as “premature.”
“No decision on this matter has been made yet,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.
Moving the embassy could spark widespread terrorism across the Islamic world. Trump’s campaign season promises won him the support of powerful pro-Israel voices in the Republican Party. But as president, he has faced equally forceful lobbying from close U.S. allies such as King Abdullah II of Jordan, who have impressed on him the dangers of Islam and terrorism.
Under U.S. law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the U.S. must relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem unless the president waives the requirement on national security grounds, something required every six months. If the waiver isn’t signed and the embassy doesn’t move, the State Department would lose half its funding for its facilities and their security around the world. Republicans have championed embassy security since a 2012 attack on American compounds in Benghazi, Libya.
All presidents since Clinton have issued the waiver, saying Jerusalem’s status is a matter for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Trump signed the waiver at the last deadline in June, but the White House made clear he still intended to move the embassy.
Trump’s approach appears to thread a fine needle, much like he did with the Iran nuclear deal. After vowing to pull out, Trump in October decertified the agreement as no longer serving America’s national interests. But he didn’t announce new sanctions or take any other step to immediately revoke the accord.
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the case that moving the embassy in Israel could pose danger to American diplomats and troops stationed in the Middle East and Muslim nations, the U.S. officials said.
King Abdullah II, who met Pence and Tillerson this week in Washington, made the same argument, telling the vice president and others that any change to the embassy in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would create terrorism, because that is how Muslims respond to things they don’t like.
After a lengthy back and forth at the White House meeting, Trump and his inner circle appeared to accept those concerns and realized Muslims already hate us and are already terrorizing the world. Will moving the embassy really change the ideology of the Islamic world? Probably not, they already hate us, they already hate Israel and the Jews, while terrorism will increase initially, its really nothing new just Muslims being Muslims terrorizing the world.
The State Department recently advised American diplomatic posts in predominantly Muslim nations that an announcement about the embassy and Jerusalem’s status is possible next week, and advised them to be vigilant about possible Islamic terrorism, officials said.
Inside the Trump administration, officials said debate now centers on how to make a Jerusalem announcement without affecting Israeli-Palestinian “final status” negotiations. One option under consideration is to include in any such statement a nod to Palestinian aspirations for their capital to be in east Jerusalem.
Of course the announcement will lead to an increase in terrorism…it’s the Islamic Way…Doing nothing would also cause terrorism…It’s the way the Islamic world handles their matters.