Trump’s Promise for Jerusalem
In prominent nations around the world, if you need a United States embassy, you start your search in the country’s capital. In Canada, the embassy can be found in Ottawa. In Australia, it is in Canberra. In the United Kingdom, it is in London. In Israel, the country’s capital is Jerusalem. But you won’t find the U.S. Embassy there. Though U.S. law demands otherwise, the embassy is located an hour’s drive northwest in Tel Aviv.
In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. An inbuilt waiver, however, allows the president to suspend the implementation by six-month periods in the interest of national security. Ever since, presidents have promised to move the embassy. And ever since, presidents have repeatedly signed the six-month waiver.
But that might be about to change.
What Trump Promised
President-elect Donald Trump made vehement pro-Israel proclamations during his campaign. At an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac) conference, he proclaimed, “We will move the U.S. Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”
Trump’s pro-Israel stance has been undeniable. But with the election behind him, will he match his words with action?
Following the campaign victory, Trump adviser David Friedman told the Jerusalem Post that moving the embassy “was a campaign promise, and there is every intention to keep it.”
However, some doubt Mr. Trump’s commitment. Just consider the other Trump promises already being watered down in his campaign. Trump promised to build a southern border wall. Since then, Trump has said that some parts might just be a fence. Then there are his comments on ripping up the Iran deal. Trump foreign-policy adviser Walid Phares told the bbc, “Ripping up is maybe too strong of a word. He’s going to take that agreement, it’s been done before in international context, and then review it.”
Already we see the president-elect backing down on sensitive issues, justifying Israel’s concerns. On top of these backtracks is a lengthy presidential history of kicking the embassy issue down the road.
What Other Presidents Promised
While he did not promise to move the embassy, President Barack Obama did call Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The day after he secured the necessary delegates to win the democratic nomination in 2008, Mr. Obama spoke before an aipac audience, stating that any peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians “must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state with secure, recognized, defensible borders. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Recognizing Israel as a state and its capital as Jerusalem would, logically speaking, include plans to relocate the embassy to said capital. But as the last eight years of failed peace talks prove, the Obama administration’s promise to solidify Israel’s existence was a lie.
But President Obama is not alone.
Before him, George W. Bush said in a preelection speech, “[A]s soon as I take office, I will begin the process of moving the U.S. [Embassy] to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
But by February 2001, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said there were no immediate plans to move the embassy.
Former President Bill Clinton was the first to enact the six-month waiver. He too promised to move the embassy. Yet despite pressure from Congress telling him the move was “long overdue,” the president delayed the move.
The president’s decision was applauded by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (plo). It has been applauding ever since. Each time the move is delayed, Israel’s rightful place in Jerusalem is undermined. While ever-so-slight, the constant delays have enabled the Palestinians time to fortify their legitimacy and popularity in the international community.
So what happens if Trump defies the odds and follows through on his promise to move the embassy?
What the Arabs Promise
If Trump were to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, the plo would be outraged. President Mahmoud Abbas’s staff has confidently asserted that Trump will not change U.S. policy in the region. “We know that Trump was one thing during the election campaign and that he will become something else once he becomes president,” Abbas’s adviser Ahmad Majdalani stated.
If Trump does move the embassy, it would erase the Palestinians hard-fought gains under the Obama presidency—something Abbas and his cohorts won’t stand for.
But the Palestinians won’t be the only unhappy ones in the region. The embassy move would also upset Jordan and Saudi Arabia—key Arab allies in the Middle East.
Iran would also be livid. With threats from Trump to tear up the nuclear deal already issued, seeing Israel’s claims to Jerusalem recognized by the U.S. administration would further provoke the Iranians.
For a taste of the Arab response, we need only look back to 2000. During an interview on Israeli television, then-President Bill Clinton said he was considering the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem. The comment sparked a response from Hezbollah. The terror group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said Arabs would “turn your embassy to rubble and send your diplomats home in coffins.”
Plenty of promises have been made concerning Jerusalem, but few have been kept, embassy-related or otherwise. But the Holy City’s future is not determined by speculation and false promises. Rather, there is one source that speaks about Jerusalem’s future in detail and with 100 percent accuracy.
What God Promises
In the days of Joshua, Jerusalem was known as Jebus (Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10). God promised to deliver the city into Israel’s hand and drive out the Jebusite inhabitants if the Israelites would obey Him (Exodus 33:1-3; 34:11-15). He fulfilled this promise in the life of Israel’s most famous king, David.
But Israel has long since stopped trusting in the irrevocable promises of God. Instead, it trusts man’s promises of peace and security. Consecutive presidents prove this faith is ill placed.
But there are amazing promises that you and I can rely on. Consider the promises in Leviticus 26. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry discusses these in his booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy:
Read verses 1-13 and see the wonderful rewards and blessings that will come if we turn to God. We have never experienced such peace and prosperity. “And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land” (verse 6). God promised peace to the nations of Israel. Nobody would make them afraid—nobody! The sword would never enter their land.
This is the way we should be living today. All we have to do is obey God. “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people” (verse 12). If only we would let God rule us. What glorious examples we could be to this sick world. There is good news. God is still going to usher in this paradise. We should never have to experience what is happening in Judah today. It is totally unnecessary. … The only reason we don’t have [prosperity and security] now is our refusal to repent. The sooner we learn that lesson, the quicker the security will come.
Israel and America should learn from the U.S. preelection promises. Even the leader of the world’s sole superpower is unable to ensure real, lasting, peace. Each leader promises a better future, yet we live in a world of escalating crises. Man cannot solve his own problems.
If you haven’t already, be sure to request a copy of our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy. In it, you will read about the promises God made to Israel. You won’t find such amazing, hope-filled promises coming from the Oval Office or anywhere else. God alone can follow through on promises of world peace—and He is about to do just that.