U.S. President Donald Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this week that he will be making a decision on moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “in the not-too-distant future.”
Trump said the subject “has two sides to it,” and that although it’s out of character for him, he and his staff “are doing very detailed studies” of the issue. The interview was done Friday and broadcast Sunday night.
CBN interviewer David Brody raised the issue of the embassy in Israel less than two minutes into the interview, saying it was very important to American Evangelicals.
“We’re studying it very long and hard,” Trump said. “You know it’s a very big decision, because every president for the last number of presidents, they’ve come in and they were going to do it, and then all of sudden they decided they don’t want to get involved.
“It’s a big, big decision but we’re studying the issue right now; I’ve always liked the concept of doing it, I will tell you that, and I’ll have a decision in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said.
“Are the chances good?” Brody asked.
“There’s certainly a chance of that, absolutely,” Trump replied. “We’re doing very detailed studies on that and we’ll come out very soon. I hate to do that because that’s not usually me – studies – usually I do what’s right. But this has two sides to it, it’s not easy, and I’ll make a decision in the not-too-distant future.”
These were the most detailed remarks made by Trump about possibly moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since he won the election in November. On Friday, in an interview with Fox News, Trump evaded the question, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it yet; it’s too early.”
During a briefing for journalists on Sunday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked if the administration planned to move the embassy and he said, “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject.”
Trump’s remarks to CBN still somewhat contradict his statement in an interview with Sheldon Adelson-owned Israel Hayom daily, in which he declared he “did not forget” the promise he made during the campaign about moving the embassy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting said that Israel’s position, “has always been, still is, and is at every moment that the U.S. Embassy should be here in Jerusalem.” He added, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and it behooves not just the American embassy to be here but all the foreign embassies. I believe that over time most of them will come here to Jerusalem.”
Netanyahu was responding to remarks made to Haaretz by Marc Zell, co-chair of the Republicans Overseas chapter in Israel, who said the Trump administration’s foot-dragging on the embassy move was at Israel’s request. Zell told Haaretz, citing both Israeli and U.S. sources, that, “Trump has been unequivocally in favor of moving the embassy and remains so,” but, “He is proceeding cautiously because of concerns raised by Israeli officials.” Zell retracted his remarks Sunday in an interview with Channel 1.
Ten days ago Haaretz reported that the army, police and Shin Bet security service had presented Netanyahu and a group of senior minister with scenarios of escalating violence should Trump announce that he is moving the embassy. Senior Israeli officials said that Netanyahu had instructed the security establishment to prepare for this possibility from the moment Trump was sworn in.
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