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Thursday, June 13, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald J. Trump moved the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. That is a really big deal — both as policy and as politics.

A week ago, I led a delegation that met for the first time with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in his new residence within the embassy grounds in Jerusalem. What an honor for me and for the members of our delegation. Ambassador Friedman played the lead role in moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital.


For years, politicians in both parties have endorsed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In fact, the Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed in 1995, requires the U.S. Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Despite political promises and acts of Congress, the bureaucrats in the State Department and the pundits from around the world had blocked the move to Jerusalem. They said American blood would be shed if we moved the embassy to the capital city. They were wrong.

In a way, what ended up being so difficult was really quite simple. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. The prime minister works and lives there. The Knesset — the parliament of Israel — is located there. And the Supreme Court of Israel is there, too. Putting an embassy in the city where the seat of government seems to be, well, logical.

So why would something so simple be so difficult?

When the people of Israel declared their independence in 1948, they were attacked by their Arab neighbors. Jordan took over East Jerusalem and the Old City (where most of the significant religious sites for Jews and Christians — as well as Muslims — can be found). While under the rule of Jordan, half of the synagogues in the Old City were demolished and tombstones were stolen from a Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

During the Six-Day War of 1967, Israeli forces reclaimed the Old City and reunified Jerusalem. Today, tourists of all faiths and backgrounds may access sites like the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At the same time, Muslims continue to have primary access to the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

In 1980, a majority of the members of the Knesset passed a law that states: “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” Soon after, the members of the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning the Jerusalem law. The resolution was passed 14-0 with the United States abstaining.

State Department bureaucrats and global pundits continue to worry about affirming Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

This should not be such a difficult decision. The United States of America recognizes the State of Israel as a country. In fact, Israel is one of our staunchest allies in the world and, by far, the best in the region. The seat of their government is in Jerusalem and that government has adopted language affirming that Jerusalem is their national capital.

Failing to put the embassy in the capital would be like foreign countries establishing their embassy to the United States in New York instead of Washington, D.C. While New York is an important city and arguably the financial center of the world, it is not our nation’s capital. Countries that recognize America have their embassies in our nation’s capital.

So in this case, common sense is profound.

Standing at the U.S. Embassy last week in Jerusalem, I could see that the city, nation and region did not blow up because of the move. And I could hear the overwhelming admiration felt by the Israeli people for our president. Which is why this move is not only good policy, it is good politics, too.

You see, I firmly believe that President Trump was elected because he was not a typical politician.

Following through on his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem is more than just a policy move. It is another reminder that Mr. Trump is a champion for the forgotten men and women who felt that the politicians in Washington ignored the will of the people and only cared about the next election.

Every so often someone complains to me about the tone of a statement or tweet made by the president. My response is simple: Washington is filled with people who appear to say things just right but don’t do squat. I’ll take a president who doesn’t always say things exactly the way I would but gets the job done. In my mind, actions speak louder than words (or tweets).

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is one more reminder that President Trump’s record is one of action. The American people — and many others around the world — are better off because of it.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at swalker@washingtontimes.com or follow him @ScottWalker.


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