Tomorrow, President Trump will speak publicly about the status of Jerusalem. During the campaign, he promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, which is required by law unless the president issues a waiver on national security grounds–as every president has done since the law was passed. Apparently “U.S. officials” are telling reporters that Trump will say Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, a much more modest step that nevertheless is causing consternation. The Associated Press, for example, headlines: “Trump forges ahead on Jerusalem-as-capital despite warnings.” Is that a classic AP headline, or what? There is no doubt about whose side the AP is on! As always, it isn’t Trump’s.
President Donald Trump forged ahead Tuesday with plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital despite intense Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that would upend decades of U.S. policy and risk potentially violent protests.
Trump also told the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan in phone calls that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It remains unclear, however, when he might take that physical step, which is required by U.S. law but has been waived on national security grounds for more than two decades.
U.S. officials familiar with his planning said he would declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a rhetorical volley that could have its own dangerous consequences.
The hand-wringing continues for another 18 paragraphs. The Associated Press apparently considers leaders of the Arab world the definitive authorities on the location of Israel’s capital:
Any U.S. declaration on Jerusalem’s status, ahead of a peace deal, “would harm peace negotiation process and escalate tension in the region,” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told Trump Tuesday, according to a Saudi readout of their telephone conversation. Declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king said, “would constitute a flagrant provocation to all Muslims, all over the world.”
Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the head of the Arab League, urged the U.S. to reconsider any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, warning of “repercussions.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament such recognition was a “red line” and that Turkey could respond by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.
One is tempted to say that the Arabs are entitled to their opinions, but even that isn’t correct. The location of Israel’s capital is a question of fact, not opinion, and it is up to Israel. The Arabs may not like it, but Jerusalem is Israel’s capital: the Knesset is in Jerusalem, the Supreme Court is in Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s office and official residence are in Jerusalem, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and most other government offices are in Jerusalem. To deny that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is as silly as denying that Paris is the capital of France.
The Arabs have been indulged in their demands, even when those demands are delusional, for far too long. The least President Trump can do is to acknowledge the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It would help, too, if the Associated Press and other news outlets would do the same.