Call With Netanyahu Made Trump 'Second-guess' Jerusalem Embassy Move, Kushner Says

Trump 'wondered aloud why he was taking this risk' following Netanyahu's halfhearted response to the former U.S. president's plan to relocate the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Jared Kushner writes in a new memoir

Jonathan Shamir
Jonathan Shamir
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Then-Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Kushner in Jerusalem, in June 2018.
Then-Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Kushner in Jerusalem, in June 2018.Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy in Israel
Jonathan Shamir
Jonathan Shamir

Benjamin Netanyahu's lukewarm response to Donald Trump's proposal to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem almost jeopardized the initiative, the former U.S. President's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner alleges in his new memoir.

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According to the leaked book, first reported by The Forward, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was decidedly unenthusiastic about the plan in a 2017 phone call, responding "If you choose to do that, I will support you."

Kushner alleges that “Trump began to second-guess his decision," and that the president "wondered aloud why he was taking this risk if the Israeli prime minister didn’t think it was that important,” especially given pressure from his national security team to steer clear of the potentially-inflammatory move.

Responding to the Israeli news site Walla, Netanyahu's office denied the report, claiming that he had asked Donald Trump to move the embassy "several times, and expressed great appreciation for this decision." It added that it is not clear the move would’ve gone ahead unless Netanyahu had quelled fears from the Trump administration that the move would instigate a flare-up with Palestinians.

Jerusalem has been Israel's capital since its establishment, though the state extended its claim to the city's eastern part after its conquest in 1967. The vast majority of the international community, however, does not recognize the claim, and most countries maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

Despite the long-standing U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with Bill Clinton signing the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, consecutive administrations have been cautious to take the step to relocate the embassy in fear of provoking the Palestinians.

The 2018 decision prompted Palestinians to cut ties with the U.S. administration and set off widespread protests on the Gaza border, in which scores of Palestinians were shot dead.

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