Trump advisers offer conflicting predictions on US embassy move to Jerusalem

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Advisors to president elect Donald Trump issued conflicting statements on whether he will keep his campaign pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Walid Phares, a senior foreign policy advisor to president elect Donald Trump, said during an interview for the BBC Thursday that, “Many president of the United States have committed to do it and he said as well he would that but he would it in consensus.”

The Palestinians oppose the plan, as do many of their supporters. 

But one of Trump’s advisers on Israel and the Middle East, David Friedman, told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday, the day after Trump won the election from the democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, that Trump would follow through on his promise.

“It was a campaign promise and there is every intention to keep it,” Friedman said. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.”

In September, the Trump campaign also offered no caveats in a statement that was widely interpreted as a pledge to move the embassy. 

“Mr. Trump acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3,000 years and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel,” read the statement, which was perceived by supporters and opponents of the move as a commitment to relocate the embassy. 

In January, Trump said: “I am for that 100 percent. We are for that 100 percent,” in speaking about the proposed move.

Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver, citing the national security interests of the United States.

Asked about the deal with Iran, which outgoing President Barack Obama said would roll back that country’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for some relief in sanctions against it, Phares said that Trump would not “tear it up.”

“He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion,” he added. “It could be a tense discussion but the agreement as is right now — $750 billion to the Iranian regime without receiving much in return and increasing intervention in four countries — that is not going to be accepted by the Trump administration.”