by Hal Lindsey
Throughout the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump said he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But we’ve heard that before.
In 1996, the Republican Party platform said, “A Republican administration will ensure that the U.S. Embassy is moved to Jerusalem by May 1999.” The Republicans lost that year, so we don’t know if they would have kept their promise.
However, in 1995, Congress passed the “Jerusalem Embassy Act.” The bi-partisan bill stated, “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”
The act also contained a provision allowing the president to leave the embassy in Tel Aviv if he deemed it important “to protect the national security interests of the United States.” President Clinton chose to not to move it.
Would a Republican president choose a different course? The party platform of 2000 promised, “Immediately upon taking office, the next Republican president will begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.”
Republican George W. Bush was elected, but nothing happened.
Despite the inactivity of their president in the preceding four years, the 2004 Republican platform said, “Republicans continue to support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.” But in his second four years, President Bush again kept the embassy in Tel Aviv.
Nations place embassies in the capitals of countries because they want their ambassadors near the centers of power. The “Jerusalem Embassy Act” said, “The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.”
The point of having an embassy and an ambassador is to have a local representative of one government to another. That means, the embassy needs to be located in the center of power. But the nations of the world have decided to make a political statement by not recognizing Israel’s right to name its own capital.
In 2008, then-candidate Obama proclaimed unequivocally that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. But as a president, he acted just like Presidents Bush and Clinton. In 2012, his White House spokesman at the time, Jay Carney, wouldn’t say whether Jerusalem was Israel’s capital or not. He just said, “our position hasn’t changed,” and “you know the answer.”
What will President Trump do? He said throughout the campaign that he would move the embassy. For instance, he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March, “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”
But now his administration has begun to equivocate. In his first full press briefing, new White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked, “What is the U.S. strategic interest in moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?”
Spicer answered, “Well, I don’t — as I noted yesterday through several press inquiries, we haven’t — there’s no decisions. We’re at the very early stages of that decision-making process.”
Wait a minute. We thought the decision had been made. We were given a promise, but now he tells us they’re at the “early stages of that decision-making process.” Isn’t this bait and switch? Isn’t this an example of the very swamp of Washington politics Donald Trump promised to drain?
Later, Spicer repeated, “It’s very early in this process. We are at the beginning stages of this decision-making process and his team’s gonna continue to consult with stakeholders as we get there.”
Later still, a reporter asked the question point blank. “At the end of the next four years, will the United States embassy be in Jerusalem?” Spicer answered, “Well, I — I think I’ve answered it twice now. I — we are at the early stages in this decision-making process.”
The questioner then said, “But it’s not whether, it’s when and how?”
Spicer said, “I — I — there’s a reason you go through a decision-making process. And that’s what we’re in the process of starting right now. So, I just don’t want to get ahead of — it would — if it was already a decision, then we wouldn’t be going through a process.”
But if the decision hasn’t been made and they are in the early stages of the process, why would candidate Trump make a promise, then repeat it again and again?
The 5th chapter of 2 Samuel tells how David made Jerusalem Israel’s capital. Dozens of scriptures from that point forward, show that God inspired and blessed that idea. Isaiah 14:32 says, “The Lord has founded Zion, and the afflicted of His people will seek refuge in it.” (NASB)
A sovereign nation gets to choose the location of its capital, and Israel chose Jerusalem — three thousand years ago. One of the most important things to watch for over the next few weeks is whether the United States chooses to respect that choice.