Today, Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat said that President Donald Trump was a “true friend” to Israel, referring to a reported statement by Trump press secretary Sean Spicer that the administration was at the “very beginning stages” of discussing a move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.
“We will offer them all the assistance necessary,” Barkat said in a statement. “The U.S. has sent a message to the world that it recognizes Yerushalayim as the united capital of Israel.”
Trump pledged during his campaign to move the embassy, and his designated ambassador to Israel, New York bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, has called the move was a “big priority” for the new administration.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Jordanian King Abdullah II on Sunday to discuss what to do if Trump makes good on the promised move. Jordan plays an important role in Yerushalayim as a caretaker of the holy Muslim sites in the eastern side of the city.
Abbas said in a statement after his meeting with the king, “We wish two thing of the new American administration: First, to stop talks about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem; and second, to get involved in conducting serious negotiations between Palestine and Israel to reach a political solution which is for the best interest of Palestinians, Israelis and the whole region.”
In his confirmation hearing, secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson called Israel “our most important ally in the region,” and criticized former president Barack Obama for undermining Israeli security, but did not directly address the embassy question.
Tillerson’s confirmation was all but assured on Sunday, when a pair of Republican senators who had expressed concerns about him announced they will vote to confirm him. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, two traditional GOP hawks who have voiced skepticism about Tillerson’s ties to Russia, released a joint statement saying that after much thought, they have decided to back him.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to vote Monday afternoon on Tillerson. Regardless of the outcome, his nomination will move to the full Senate floor for a vote, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said last week.
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