As we went to press Tuesday evening, there were the strongest of indications that, on Wednesday, President Trump would be announcing U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, constituting a first step in his decision to move the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Major news outlets reported that Arab leaders said that Mr. Trump informed them as much and were venting their anger.
Interestingly, Mr. Trump reportedly also planned to announce his invocation of the so-called national security “waiver” provision contained in the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995, which required the embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. Conventional wisdom has it that the “waiver” allows a president to delay moving the embassy, but the conventional wisdom is wrong and it seems we are finally on the road to locating our embassy in the city that Israel deems its capital – a move that most Americans support.
As we have editorially noted several times, the embassy law provides for restrictions on expenditures overseas by the U.S. State Department as long as the embassy remains in Tel Aviv after 1999 unless the president certifies to Congress at six month intervals that the restrictions will harm U.S. national security interests abroad. In that event, although the obligation to move the embassy remains intact, the restrictions are suspended.
We will have more to say about this issue next week after the president makes his announcement. But as matters stand now, it seems that we finally have a president who adheres to the embassy law, who keeps his word, and who resists the blandishments of those who want him to act otherwise.