Walid Phares, a Middle East policy adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, told Middle East diplomats in Washington during a briefing on Wednesday that moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a "complex" move, which would be a "process" that would take a long time if undertaken, CNN reported.
The Israeli-Arab conflict was a relatively minor issue in Phares' briefing of the diplomats, which focused on Syria, Iran and Libya. However, Phares noted that Trump is personally interested in advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. He added that he foresees that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, would play a part in U.S. diplomacy on the matter.
Phares' comments contradicted statements by other advisers to the president-elect in recent days. Earlier this week, Kellyanne Conway said that Trump is determined to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem after he steps into the White House. "That is very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump," the senior adviser said in a radio interview Monday. A day later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters during a visit to Azerbaijan that Trump's plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is "great."
During the presidential election campaign Trump and some of his advisers said that if he became president, his administration would recognize united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and implement the U.S. Congress’ decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Trump told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the same thing when they two met in New York in September. Trump’s adviser on Israel, Jason Greenblatt, reiterated that position in an interview with Army Radio. However, later it seemed that the Trump camp was backpedaling on the issue.
The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said in Washington last month that if Trump moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem the Palestinians would “make life miserable” for the United States at the United Nations.
“If people attack us by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which is a violation of Security Council resolutions, it is a violation of resolution 181 of the UN general assembly that was drafted by the U.S. it means they are showing belligerency towards us If they do that nobody should blame us for unleashing all of the weapons that we have in the UN to defend ourselves and we have a lot of weapons in the UN,” Mansour said.
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