In an announcement that is sure to please both Jewish and Christian Zionists, Republican Donald Trump announced that in a Trump presidency the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The announcement came after Trump met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Trump Tower yesterday. According to the Trump campaign, the pair discussed “military assistance, security and regional stability.”
Netanyahu and Trump were joined by Israel's emissary to the US, Ambassador Ron Dermer, as well as Trump's son-in-law and political advisor Jared Kushner. They spoke at the iconic building for almost 90 minutes.
Trump said that the pair spoke about Israel’s border wall, as well as their opposition to President Barack Obama's deal with Iran to halt the Islamic Republic's nuclear weaponization program. The meeting was closed to the press, and Trump did not say whether he discussed his plan to limit Muslim immigration. Netanyahu has criticized Trump’s anti-terrorism plan, even while Trump admires Israel’s strategy. Trump once spoke approvingly of Israel use of profiling, saying in an interview with Fox News that “in Israel they profile,” and “they’ve done an unbelievable job, as good as you can do.”
After the meeting, Trump said that he agrees with Netanyahu that “peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”
Israel has long claimed Jerusalem as its capital, but East Jerusalem is still claimed by the Palestinians. Currently, it is the official policy of the United States not to recognize Jerusalem as belonging to any country. The United States embassy in Israel is located in Tel Aviv. For more than two decades, Congress has called on the White House to move the embassy to Jerusalem but has been blocked by successive presidents. In 2015, the dispute between the two branches of government went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Obama.
Trump has “acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3000 years," read a campaign statement, "and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
Relations between Trump and the Israeli leader appeared to have warmed considerably ever since the Republican nominee cancelled a trip to Israel that had been planned for 2015, ostensibly because of Netanyahu's opposition to Trump's Muslim ban. After the Sunday meeting, the Israelis released a statement that said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support for Israel.”
Netanyahu later met with Hillary Clinton in New York. His relationship with the Obama administration has been fraught with disagreement. Last year, while addressing a joint session of the US Congress, Netanyahu told the legislators that Obama's agreement with Iran was a "bad deal." He was roundly criticized by Democrats, such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for his comments.