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New Caucus Hoping Trump Announces Embassy Move on Israel Trip

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays with his sons Yair and Avner, right, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Jan. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Uriel Sinai, Pool)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), co-chairman of the new Congressional Israel Victory Caucus, called for the White House to follow through on President Trump’s campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We’re looking at it very, very strongly. We’re looking at it with great care, great care, believe me,” Trump said in February alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), co-chairman of the caucus, hopes Trump might announce the relocation of the U.S. Embassy during his planned trip to Israel on May 22-23.

“We founded this caucus on one single irrefutable principle and that is, first and foremost, Israel has a fundamental right to exist and defend herself, and that is not negotiable. Israel has been at war with its immediate neighbors over its right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people for nearly 70 years, and we believe Israel has been victorious in this war, and that this reality must be recognized in order for any peace to be achieved between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors,” Johnson said during the launch of the caucus at a recent Middle East Forum event on Capitol Hill.

“After eight years of the Obama administration creating uncertainty as to America’s support for our closest ally in the Middle East, I believe it’s important the nation of Israel know she has strong allies both in Congress and now, once again, in the White House,” he added.

Johnson also said the U.S. should send a “strong message” to the Palestinian Authority so they “give up” their goal of “destroying Israel” and “accept its right to exist as the Jewish State.” He also urged the Trump administration to reverse United Nations resolutions that are harmful to Israel and denounce the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Johnson applauded UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, saying she is doing an “exceptional job in reassuring Israel and declaring to the world that America will not stand for one-sided resolutions against our closest friend and ally in the Middle East.”

The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus was formed in 2006 and has a mix of Democratic and Republican members. So far, the new Congressional Israel Victory Caucus membership consists of Republican lawmakers.

“I believe Israel’s homeland is the land that God set aside for her. I, for one, am going to stand firmly on that principle and I urge my colleagues and our president to do the same. I believe most Americans feel the same way and, if given the opportunity to voice that support, they will do so,” Johnson said.

DeSantis said there is no better time for Trump to announce the relocation of the embassy than during his planned trip to Israel. He also said the timing of Trump’s trip is not an “accident.”

The president plans on first flying to Saudi Arabia on May 18 before heading to Tel Aviv on May 22. On May 23, he’ll leave for Rome.

“[Trump] promised he was going to do it and this is a guy who is very interested in keeping his promises, so we’re assuming that’s going to happen,” he said. “What better time than there to be to announce the relocation of the embassy than when you are over there as president celebrating alongside our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary, so I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it’s more likely to happen than not,” said DeSantis, who visited Israel in March to see potential sites for the embassy.

“I think that will send a powerful signal not only about the U.S.-Israel relationship that we’re back and stronger than ever, but I think that will send a signal to other countries and the rest of the world that America is back, we’re going to stand by our allies, and we’re not going to let folks cow us into not doing the right thing,” he added.