Opinion |

Israelis' Hopes and Expectations for Donald Trump

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U.S. Embassy in Tel AvivCredit: Ariel Schalit

In less than two months Donald Trump will enter the Oval Office. While he is busy assembling his staff and appointing members of his cabinet, some precocious Israeli politicians are already offering him advice. He should take a more active military role in the Middle East, he's been told. He should abandon the “two-state” solution paradigm, and support additional settlements in Judea and Samaria, he is advised, and he should move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

At this time, no doubt, the president-elect and his staff believe in putting first things first, and important as all the unsolicited advice may be, it is not the first thing on their agenda. A little patience is in order.

But we do have expectations. For eight years President Barack Obama told Israel at regular intervals what it should and should not do. Israel and the U.S. remained friends and Israel was not thrown under the bus, as some of Israel’s friends in the U.S. alleged, but that was still no way to treat an ally.

The alliance between the U.S. and Israel has been fostered for many years and, as is inevitable, allied nations on occasion disagree but they deal with such disagreements without turning them into public debates, without giving each other orders, while respecting each other’s democratically elected leaders.

The past eight years have been an aberration in the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Israelis can expect that during the Trump administration, relations between Israel and the U.S. will return to their normal course. There are bound to be differences of opinion, but they will be handled as they should be handled between allies. All Israelis have a right to expect that.

Another case where Obama did not treat Israel as an ally were the negotiations with Iran that led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka the Iran nuclear deal) signed by Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Although the U.S., as well as other nations, was rightfully concerned by Iran’s nuclear weapons program, it was Israel that was regularly told by Iranian leaders that Iran intended to wipe it off the map of the world. Israel is the target of Iran’s nuclear program and Israel is the target of Iran’s terror campaign, waged by Tehran and its proxies. It was Iran which blew up the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the Jewish Community Center there. Yet Israel was kept in the dark by Obama about the details of the negotiations with Iran, and they were concluded despite Israel’s objections.

This is no way to treat an ally. Hopefully, as it reviews the Iran nuclear deal the Trump administration will consult with Israel and keep it in the picture. All Israelis have a right to expect that.

And, yes, the location of the U.S. Embassy in Israel. A sore point. Ever since U.S. recognition of the State of Israel in May 1948, and until this day, the U.S. does not recognize Israeli sovereignty in West Jerusalem, and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv. In 1995 the U.S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act for the purpose of initiating and funding the relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A plot of land in the Talpiot neighborhood of West Jerusalem has already been designated for this purpose.

Obama, like two of his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, has chosen not to implement the law enacted by Congress, using a presidential waiver in the name, of national security interests.

It is hoped that President Donald Trump will execute the Jerusalem Embassy Act and order the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. All Israelis have a right to expect that.