In front of pro-Israeli donors and activists at AIPAC this weekend, Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. may actually make good on a promise that presidents have been making since the mid-1990s.
“After decades of simply talking about it, the President of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said Sunday.
At last year’s AIPAC, Donald Trump gave the usual line, assuring the activists that he considered Jerusalem the true and eternal capital of Israel, and he promised several times on the campaign trail that he would move the embassy there if elected. Last month, in a presser with Benjamin Netanyahu, he reiterated his commitment to that sentiment while keeping his possibilities open.
Asked if the U.S. would move the embassy, President Trump said, “I’d love to see that happen. We’re looking at it very, very strongly. We’re looking at it with great care.”
Congress passed a law making Jerusalem the official home of the embassy in 1995, and presidents at the time and since – Clinton, Bush, and Obama – have all signed waivers delaying the move. Why candidates find it so easy to promise an embassy move on the trail and so difficult to follow through once they become president is a matter of some mystery, but it’s probably not as secret or complex as you might fantasize. The move of the embassy would effectively be the end of a two-state solution in the region, and Palestinian leaders have promised violence in the wake of such a move.
Of course, it would be ridiculous to pretend that a two-state solution is currently viable in any case. And while we may not see the increasing violence between the two sides right now, it’s only a matter of time. This is a conflict with no end in sight, and it’s still unclear what it would take to bring the Palestinians to the table for serious negotiations.
Pence also said Sunday that the Trump administration would keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program, another looming threat that concerns the Israeli government.
“Due to the disastrous end of nuclear-related sanctions under the Iran deal, they now have additional resources to devote to sowing chaos and imperiling Israel,” he said. “So let me be clear, under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is our solemn promise to you, to Israel, and to the world.”
Hopefully, now that the U.S. has a leader who isn’t allergic to Netanyahu, our country can once again be a great ally to Israel, securing their safety as well as our own.