According to one of Trump’s most senior advisers, the controversial idea of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a “very big priority” for Donald Trump.
Kellyanne Conway, a spokeswoman for the president-elect, said in a radio interview yesterday that Trump “made it very clear during the campaign” and that she had “heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly”.
While Israel considers Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided capital”, the Palestinians regard the east of the city — occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War — to be the capital of any future Palestinian state. Trump’s plan effectively rules out a two-state solution to which the agreed division of Jerusalem would be key.
Trump delighted Israel’s right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September by telling him during a lengthy meeting that if he won the presidential election, the US would “recognise Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
The US, the UN and almost every country in the world currently refuse to accept that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, with most major embassies functioning in the sea-side business capital, Tel Aviv. International consensus is that East Jerusalem — having been occupied militarily in the Six Day War and then unilaterally “annexed” — is occupied territory, just like the West Bank.
Israeli officials say that Trump would have the power to enact the embassy law simply by failing to exercise the waiver.
“It’s an excellent idea, and it’s about time,” Yair Lapid, an opposition right-of-centre Israeli politician, said. “We are sitting now in Israel’s capital [Jerusalem].”
The Republicans’ recently rewritten platform Israel-Palestine – regarded as its most pro-Israel ever – makes no reference to the two-state solution, or to Israel’s 49-year-old occupation of Palestinian territories.