Pro-Israel groups expressed their dismay after news emergedon Wednesday that President Trump will not use his upcoming trip to Israel to announce that he is moving the U.S. embassy in that country to Jerusalem.
Trump had promised during the presidential campaign that he would move the embassy, a fact noted by the executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, Nathan Diament.
“It was never really realistic that the whole embassy would be moved lock stock and barrel to Jerusalem [right away], but the OU constituency will be disappointed if the process of moving the embassy is not started and the president can’t keep his campaign promise,” Diament told the Forward.
Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein, one of the Jewish leaders who has most embraced Trump and his administration, told the Forward that the news “is deeply disappointing.”
“This only sends a message that terrorists’ threats are rewarded,” he added. “We can never allow terrorists’ threats to determine policy.”
American Jewish Committee spokesman Kenneth Bandler’s reaction was more muted. “The AJC believes that the American embassy belongs in Jerusalem. We would welcome a decision by President Trump to begin that process,” Bandler told the Forward. AJC CEO David Harris said in a statement in January that a decision about the embassy “is not without its challenges, and any American administration will need to weigh the issues carefully in choosing the appropriate time to make the move.”
While Trump will evidently not be making an embassy announcement while in Israel on May 22-23, the real deadline is June 1st: Under the terms of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the president must sign a waiver by then in order to continue delaying the embassy move. And if the waiver is signed? “That would be disappointing,” Diament said.
Klein expressed hope that the move would eventually be made. “I remain confident that President Trump will move the embassy to Jerusalem during his term,” he said. “I’ve talked to many people in the administration, and they’ve assured me of this, and I believe them.”
Correction, May 18, 11:18 a.m.: An earlier version of this article contained a quote from Nathan Diament that could be read to imply that the Orthodox Union did not expect the U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem at all. In fact, Diament was explaining why he did not expect the entire embassy complex to be moved immediately.