A congressional delegation sent to Israel to examine the issue of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem arrived this weekend for a fact-finding mission to assess the practical and political implications of the move.
Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), a member of the delegation, told reporters at a press conference Sunday evening that President Trump intends to stand by his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Israeli journalists have been writing articles doubting Trump's intentions since the inauguration.
According to DeSantis, Trump’s inauguration and the selection of Ambassador-Designate to Israel David Friedman were exciting moments following eight years under President Obama, during which relations between Israel and the White House were “not simple.”
“The American people are excited to see the embassy move from Jerusalem after fifty years,” said DeSantis, referencing the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.
Contrary to media reports that the Israeli government and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had asked the White House to hold off on the proposed embassy relocation, Rep. DeSantis said Israel’s leadership was unified in its support of the move.
“I also met with Netanyahu and everyone [in the government] was in favor. Maybe Netanyahu is waiting for the confirmation of the new ambassador. In my opinion, [the delay in the relocation] is a logistical problem.”
Regarding speculation by opponents of the embassy move that the relocation could increase tensions in the region, DeSantis said the threats seemed overblown.
“I can’t know what will be in the future. I do know that there are advantages to moving the embassy, and one of them is honesty. We have to be honest that Jerusalem is the capital [of Israel]. There is no real argument about that at all. America stands behind its ally, Israel. Just as we condemned the UN [Security Council] resolution, we stand by our friend’s side.”
DeSantis added that by relocating its embassy, the US would likely cause other countries to do the same.
“I don’t know how many countries will take this step, but if the US does this, we will see more countries joining.”