President Donald Trump made the decision to temporarily keep the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and many conservative Christians are disappointed with this news from Washington. Although President Trump promised during his presidential campaign to relocate the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, this latest report has many disheartened.
The key word though in the lack of Trump moving the U.S. Embassy is “temporarily.” Trump’s administration has caused a huge debate over the relocation, and the president has been attempting to negotiate with them for several months to no avail. A White House representative said the delay does not indicate that President Trump was abandoning the plan to move the embassy, but the time frame has just been changed.
According to the White House, “The question is not if that move happens, but only when.”
For now, Trump has decided not to cancel, but delay the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in an effort to enhance the Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking efforts. Instead of the move, he chose to sign the six-month waiver as other presidents have, which overrides a law from 1995 that mandates that the embassy be transferred to Jerusalem.
White House sources say that President Trump made the decision “to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests.”
Most allies and leaders had mixed feelings with the decision not to proceed with the relocation. Many did agree, however, that it would have undermined decades of U.S. policy and discussions because the move would have been viewed as the U.S. recognizing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s representative indicated the premier’s sentiments of the situation, “Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”
Others, such as Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, are not in favor of delaying the relocation, and fears the delay will “damage the prospect of a lasting peace by nurturing false expectations among the Palestinians regarding the division of Jerusalem, which will never happen.”
President Trump was praised by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who thinks the president’s decision “reaffirms the seriousness of the United States in its efforts to achieve peace.”
During his recent trip to Israel in May, the president was careful to avoid speaking about the relocation of the embassy in an effort to keep things peaceful.
Trump’s Campaign Promises and Conservative Christians
Trump’s pro-Israel statements and campaign promises led people to expect a quick relocation of the embassy. Top aides urged the president to fulfill his campaign promise to relocate the embassy, but the State Department recommended against an embassy move.
Trump’s decision to delay the move received harsh criticism from disappointed supporters; especially conservative Christians. They did find comfort in the White House statement assuring supporters it was definitely a delay and not a cancelation of the relocation. “No one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the president’s strong support for Israel,” was the official White House statement about the president’s signing of the Jerusalem Embassy Act waiver.
Prior to Trump’s scheduled visit to Israel, about 60 evangelical Christian leaders signed a letter to the president urging an end to the waiver, which all prior presidents signed in the past. If signed, this waiver obstructs the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which would delay the relocation of the embassy yet again.
“Such suspensions have been repeated semi-annually for two decades, and it is time to end America’s doublespeak,” said the letter from the American Christian Leaders for Israel.
Christian conservatives, including National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry A. Johnson, are disappointed, but have faith the president will keep his word.
“America’s recognition of the capital city of our foremost and only democratic ally in the Middle East should not be a bargaining chip,” he said. “I am disappointed, but I take the President at his word that this is only a delay in delivering on his promise.”
Others echoed Mr. Johnson’s sentiments.
“We are disappointed the president chose at this time to sign the Jerusalem Embassy Act waiver, but remain hopeful that he will fulfill his campaign pledge and move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” said Christians United for Israel in a statement. “The president knows that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, and we strongly believe that the location of our embassy should reflect that reality.”
Though Christians are less than pleased in the president’s decision now, it has been reiterated by the White House that the U.S. Embassy will indeed be moved to Jerusalem in the future, which conservative Christians see as a true victory.
~ 1776 Christian