WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump's decision on Thursday to sign the waiver postponing the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem drew criticism on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and a leading Democrat expressed disappointment and urged Trump to re-consider the decision, which breaks his campaign promise made during the 2016 election.
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement attacking Trump for failing to follow through on his promise. "As someone who believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am deeply disappointed in President Trump’s decision," Schumer declared. "Will those who criticized President Obama for not moving the Embassy make their voices just as loud and just as strong when it comes to President Trump’s failure to move the Embassy?"
Schumer was the only Democratic Senator who condemned Trump for his decision, which won praise from J Street, the left-wing Jewish organization working to promote a two-state solution. It is rare for a Democratic politician these days to attack a Republican colleague from the right on issues relating to Israel. Schumer is known as a strong supporter of Israel, and was also the most senior Democrat to speak earlier this year at the annual AIPAC conference.
On the Republican side, Trump was criticized by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), head of the House Republican Israel Caucus. "Jerusalem is absolutely where our embassy belongs. Jerusalem is the unquestionable capital of Israel and should be fully recognized as such," Zeldin said in a statement. "In addition to all of the most sacred religious sites, Jerusalem is also the location of the Israeli Knesset and offices and residences of the Israeli Prime Minister and President. I strongly urge the President to reconsider this most recent announcement. It was a credit to the President's campaign last year that he knew and was outspoken for moving the U.S. embassy as the correct path forward.”
While dozens of Republican Congressmen have urged Trump to move the embassy in recent months, Zeldin was the only one to publicly challenge him on the issue on Thursday. It is expected, however, that in the coming days, more will join. One interesting name to watch will be Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who has been calling to move the embassy for years, and wrote just two weeks ago that "it is time for the United States to formally recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel."
Another prominent Republican (although not in any office at the moment) who criticized the decision was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a strong supporter of Trump during the last election. Huckabee wrote on his twitter account that Trump is "1 of 2 on campaign promises," explaining that while he stood by his word and pulled the United States out of the Paris agreement, he failed to move the embassy "to Jerusalem, legitimate capital of Israel."