Foreign Policy

Peace Through Jerusalem

Trump not only kept a promise but did what three previous presidents refused to do for our ally.

Political Editors · Dec. 7, 2017

Donald Trump continues to be the antithesis of a do-nothing political leader. Yesterday, some 22 years after the Jerusalem Embassy Act became law, Trump finally declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Trump rightly understands that peace through Jerusalem can be achieved only by exercising Ronald Reagan’s approach to foreign policy: “Peace through strength.” Yesterday’s move definitely puts both Israel and the U.S. in a more fortified position. The following are some important remarks from his speech:

We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches. My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city … is Israel’s capital. This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. … This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done. That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.

Notably, what Trump actually did was sign another waiver while making a very strong commitment to begin the process of moving the embassy. Nevertheless, it’s a good strategic move to make real headway on peace in the region. We will have more to say in a detailed analysis tomorrow. Stay tuned.

In other news, Barack Obama compared the Trump era to Hitler’s. No kidding.

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