News & Politics

Amid Growing Criticism, Trump Delays Decision on Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Wait. It comes as a surprise to President Trump that many world leaders, especially from the Middle East, oppose him recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s historic and undivided capital?

Facing dark warnings of a historic misstep and widespread unrest, US President Donald Trump on Monday delayed a decision on whether to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the US embassy there.

The White House said Trump would miss a deadline to decide on shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv, after a frantic 48 hours of public warnings from allies and private phone calls between world leaders.

When he was running for president, Trump promised voters he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital. He would also, he said, move the American embassy to that city (from Tel Aviv).

He has now been president for almost one year. If he wanted to do it, he could’ve done this on his first day in office.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley says:

The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

Oh, and why is that? The “when” doesn’t matter one bit. Those who oppose this move won’t change their mind next year. Or the year after. Or anytime else in the coming 100 years for that matter.

If Trump truly wants to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — if that wasn’t an election gimmick — there’s no reason whatsoever to “wait” to do so. Nothing will or can happen in the coming years to change the minds of those who oppose it. He has a simple choice: either he ignores those opponents and keeps his promise to Republican primary (and general election) voters, or he decides that the warnings of foreign leaders are valid, meaning he’ll break his promise. In either case, delaying the decision makes no sense.

And no, I’m not one of those people who believes Trump should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American embassy to that beautiful city. As the leader of the most powerful country on earth, he has to take other governments’ views seriously. If the CIA can show beyond a shadow of a doubt, for instance, that America’s (or Americans’) security abroad will be affected, it may very well be wise — although not popular! — to roll back this promise and explain to voters the reasons for doing so. On the other hand, if intel agencies believe that there will not be serious long-term repercussions, then it would be rather strange to renege on this promise.

The decision is Trump’s, but he needs to make it fast. There’s no reason to delay this matter. In fact, all this speculation is quite possibly causing more problems than an actual announcement one way or the other will do.