President Donald Trump is wasting no time in his effort to strengthen US-Israel relations. As announced on Sunday, he has extended an invitation to meet with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington early next month.
“The president and the prime minister agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran,” said the White House.
The statement did not mention the US embassy in Israel, but an Israeli news outlet reported that the facility would soon be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – an action that will likely incite anger in the Arab world.
Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, but the Palestinians claim the city will be part of their future state. Congress passed a law in 1995 stating that the US recognized Israel’s claim to the city, but successive presidents have maintained the embassy in Tel Aviv.
Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he plans to move the embassy “despite warnings the move would violate international law and destroy the peace process,” reports the Independent.
The UN does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and we can expect protests from our allies in the Middle East if we move the embassy there. Trump has also promised to help negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians, something that will be far more difficult if the embassy is relocated.
Expecting Trump to support their effort to build settlements on Palestinian land, Israel has recently approved hundreds of building permits in East Jerusalem.
“Let’s greet him [Trump] together as our friend,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “And thank him for his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, thereby conveying a clear message to the world: Jerusalem is Israel’s united capital.”