December 06, 2017
If there's one thing President Trump understands, it's real estate. And there aren't many piece of property whose value exceeds that of Jerusalem. The entire country is only slightly larger than Massachusetts, but no nation has played a greater role in the history of the world than the tiny swath of land tucked in an uneasy Middle East. And after a quarter-century of promises, it's time, the White House announced today, to give Jerusalem the respect it deserves.
Early this afternoon, Donald Trump confirmed reports that his administration would do what every president since 1995 has failed to: move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision is a bold one, since it signals that America won't be held hostage to a fractious peace process that's frightened other administrations away from doing what this White House now is. Since Congress ordered the move 22 years ago, Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama have postponed it, letting the threat of violence to dictate American policy. As far as Donald Trump is concerned, that timidity ends now.
After eight years of watching Barack Obama butcher relations with America's closest ally, Donald Trump is not about to shrink back from recognizing what the world already does: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. "Old challenges require new approaches," the president said. "I judge this course of action to be in the best interests of the U.S. and the pursuit of peace."
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude, international leaders bemoaned the decision, fretting that it would heighten tensions and increase attacks. "[P]eople are going to die now because of what was said today!" wailed a hysterical Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Guess what, writes the National Review's Jim Geraghty? People are going to die in Middle East no matter what we do. It's time to stop basing our decisions on a pattern of violence that no one -- including America -- has been able to end. "We just witnessed roughly a half-million people get killed in the Syrian Civil War. Maybe the region generates its own conflicts, disputes, and unrest on its own, regardless of where our embassy is. Nobody makes [anyone] in the Middle East pick up weapons and start trying to kill each other. Maybe it's time all the players in the region stopped using the United States as the scapegoat for their own decisions."
Does the White House care about the peace process? Of course. But, as a senior administration official told Politico, "Delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has done nothing to achieve peace for more than two decades." Besides, as my radio guest Gregg Roman wondered in a great Hill op-ed, "How can Israel make peace when the Palestinians don't want peace?" Until they do, the Palestinian authorities are just one of the groups about to realize (if they don't already) that they're dealing with a very different American leader in Donald Trump. This president, more so than any other president in my lifetime, has kept his promises. Here, as with so many other issues, he's following through on a Republican platform that he embraced from the beginning -- a platform that calls for moving the U.S. embassy to Israel's capital.
On yesterday's "Washington Watch," Gregg reminded our listeners that this isn't just sound policy -- it's the law.
"[The] national security waiver [that allows presidents to kick the embassy move down the road every six months] has been acting as a political football for subsequent administrations to pass the buck... President Trump is the only one brave enough to embrace that law, to embrace the political platform of the Republican Party. And dare I say, the Democrats had the same position as well, if you look at their platform. This is a bipartisan issue. It's something where there's multinational consensus, and President Trump is the only one willing to move that policy forward."
This is the perfect example of Ronald Reagan's motto, "Peace through strength." In the end, this is a question of U.S. sovereignty. We can't continue to make decisions based on what other nations will think. We have to do what's in the best interest of America and our allies. And while the process could take years -- "It will take some time to find a site, address security concerns, design a new facility, fund a new facility... [and] build it"-- today's decision is a major milestone in our countries' historic relationship.
Like millions of people around the world, we thank the White House for taking this significant step. Under President Trump's bold leadership, America's foreign policy, as it pertains to Israel, is coming into alignment with biblical truth: Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.