President-elect Donald Trump reassured supporters on Tuesday that he does not intend to go back on his campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying, “You know that I am not a person who breaks promises.”
Speaking from the Chairman’s Global Dinner in Washington DC, Trump said that he “clearly did not forget” his guarantee to move the embassy, an act which has come to represent Trump’s pro-Israel stance and enjoys wide bipartisan support from Congress.
While a number of past presidents have promised to make the momentous move while campaigning, none have ever followed through, wary of stirring tensions in a city which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital. Trump, however, remained adamant throughout the race that upon taking office, he would “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”
He has appointed as ambassador to Israel right-winger David Friedman, who has said he is “eager to begin work from the US embassy” in Jerusalem.
Until now, the US has been unwilling to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for fear of angering Palestinians. In fact, many American officials – including President Barack Obama – have refused to even acknowledge that Jerusalem is physically located in Israel.
Trump’s pro-Jerusalem sentiments have been cheered by Israeli politicians across the spectrum, including the capital’s mayor Nir Barkat, who launched a campaign on Thursday to show support for Trump from the holy city.
“This week Donald Trump will enter the White House as president. Let’s together welcome him as a friend and thank him for his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem,” urged Barkat in a video filmed from his office in Jerusalem.
Barkat also suggested a quick and easy way to move the embassy with very little fuss. “You can move the embassy in one morning by a small change: Take the plaque of the consulate [in Jerusalem] and replace it with one that says ’embassy’,” he proposed to Israel Radio on Wednesday.
“That can be done in five minutes, and afterwards you can move the ambassador and then move the rest of the staff and services.”
Such a move would “change the whole dynamic around Jerusalem and Israel,” Barkat said.
He criticized outgoing President Obama’s attitude towards Israel, saying that for “eight challenging years” Jerusalem has had to deal with “demands for building freezes, surrenders to radical Islam, surrenders to the Iranians.
“I hope that we are at the beginning of a new era of eight good years,” he concluded.