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December 19, 2016 7:29 am

An Open Letter to Trump: Move the Embassy

avatar by Arik Elman

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The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Photo: Wiki Commons.

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Dear Mr. President-elect,

First, thank you for your appointment of David Friedman as your ambassador to Israel. He is a fine, and strong, choice for the position.

After accepting his nomination, Mr. Friedman expressed his hope that he will be able to discharge his duties from a US embassy in Jerusalem. Coming on the heels of a similar statement from your campaign manager that moving the embassy is a “very big priority” for you, I hope you are going to keep your word on the issue.

However, I can easily imagine that, after January 20th, you will hear persuasive arguments why you shouldn’t keep this promise. Your advisers will tell you, truthfully, that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will cause outrage — and also very real threats to American lives. They will probably ask you to consider what is more important — taking a symbolic step that will upset the entire Arab world, or rolling back the bad deal with Iran. They might even tell you to pick up the phone, call Prime Minister Netanyahu and ask him to make this choice for you.

But these are not reasons to equivocate.

Fear of violence cannot prevent us from doing what is right. And since most of the players in the region are afraid of Iran and totally beholden to the United States for their survival, they have a vested interest to mute their response.

However, the main reason you should keep your promise is a different one.

You have said that you would “love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians.” Yet American policies over the last eight years have shown that peace cannot be achieved by blaming Israel while refusing to punish the Palestinians for their stubborn refusal to negotiate, to stop incitement, to abide by their treaty obligations and to desist from rewarding and glorifying murderers of Jews.

Yet how can you punish the Palestinians? As the Israeli government has acknowledged, denying Palestinian Authority financial aid can quickly backfire.

The only true stick you have is the credible threat of a gradual American recognition of the territorial gains made by the Jewish state since 1948. And there is no better place to start than Jerusalem.

When the Stars and Stripes rise in Jerusalem, it will come as a profound shock to Palestinian leadership — which believes that it can make Israel bleed at no cost to itself. The shock might just be great enough to force Palestinians to return to the negotiating table — especially if you indicate that, if they don’t, your administration will be prepared to recognize Israeli sovereignty over “large settlement blocks” as well.

So you see, Mr. President-elect, you should keep your promise not just because it’s a good thing to do — but because it can help bring about peace.

Move the embassy, Donald.

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