TEL AVIV – Israeli lawmakers on Sunday decried President Donald Trump’s declaration that he wouldn’t “even think about” moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is “given a shot.”
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said he was saddened by Trump’s decision, especially since Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not a true partner for peace.
“I am very disappointed that President Trump chose to delay implementing his campaign promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem due to an illusion that a real peace process can be advanced with the current Palestinian administration,” Elkin said.
“Anyone who sees the incessant incitement from the PA, which refuses to stop paying salaries to terrorists, elects a murderer as Hebron mayor and embraces Hamas, understands that the last thing to expect from Abbas now is advancing peace.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Sunday that Israel “can’t give peace a chance when Hamas and Fatah want to be a part of the same government.”
“If you really would like to give peace a chance you would move your embassy to Jerusalem, in order to ensure that Jerusalem will never be divided,” she said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he was confident that Trump would nevertheless fulfill his pledge to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
“Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, is the right thing to do, with or without a peace agreement,” Barkat said.
Likud MK and Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick emphasized the importance of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“We do not need the recognition of the world to Jerusalem, the world needs it,” Glick said.
“Every leader has a choice, he can chose whether he wants to be a Pharaoh or a Cyrus. Every president, every leader can chose – he can chose to be part of the Godly historical events that are happening right now.”
Those who do “will become part of eternity. If you decide not to, you are forgotten in the history of the world,” Glick added.
In an interview with the website Breaking Israel News, Glick said Trump should get credit for at least being “humble enough to say he may not succeed.”
“We all want peace. Real peace will be when the world recognizes Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Trump said he would recognize this, and we expect him to do it. I don’t think that transferring the embassy should happen after we achieve peace, but as part of achieving peace. Any delay will not get us closer,” Glick said.
On Saturday, Trump told former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in a televised interview that he had decided to delay the move until his administration could go ahead with an Israelli-Palestinian negotiating plan its been working on over the past few months.
“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump said.
Trump’s campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked outrage in the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world at large. In May, the president signed a waiver that delayed its fulfillment for another six months, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express “disappointment.”
At the time, the White House said the decision does not affect the U.S.’s strong relationship with Israel and added that Trump still has every intention of moving the embassy in the future.
During the interview with Huckabee, Trump was cagey about what the deal entailed but hopeful that it could be struck.
“We’re working on a plan that everybody says will never work,” he said. “If that doesn’t work, which it’s possible that it won’t, to be totally honest, most people say it’s an impossible deal. I don’t think it is impossible, and I think it’s something that can happen, and I’m not making any predictions.”
He continued by saying that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would pave the way for peace in the region, “which has to happen.”
Several reports have suggested that the deal may include the normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world.