United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a strong supporter of Israel at the international body, implied that the plans to move the U.S. embassy to Israel to Jerusalem could be some type of negotiating point or inducement in a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Asked by CNN’s Jack Tapper if the embassy move—delayed by Trump last week—could be “leverage” for a peace deal, Haley did not directly confirm or deny that it could be. Instead, she acknowledged it could play a role.
Haley, according to a transcript of her interview with CNN’s State of the Union posted to the CNN website, said that President Donald Trump “knows that it could be very much a part of the peace process… He hasn’t changed his position on moving the embassy. It’s all about time. So I think that he wants to see how the peace process plays out and then handle it accordingly.” Israel has expressed their disappointment at the delay, following promises by Trump to move the embassy to Israel’s capital, a common practice with embassies in other nations. The peace process, a priority for Trump, was named in a White House statement as a reason for not moving the embassy now.
The comment posted to the White House website last week said they delayed the embassy move to “maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.” Haley confirmed this and offered additional color to the decision, implying that Trump believes that moving the embassy now could jeopardize the process. The Palestinians, who claim half of Jerusalem as their own, are strongly opposed to the embassy move.
“I think that what he did want to do is make sure that he wasn’t interrupting the negotiations that are happening with the peace process,” Haley told CNN, per to comments posted to the CNN website. “I think that they feel like it’s moving forward in a constructive way, and he didn’t want this to get in the way.”
Israel, meanwhile, believes that moving the embassy will actually help move the region closer to peace—and that not moving it will hurt the process.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following the Trump decision last week that “maintaining embassies outside the capital drives peace further away by helping keep alive the Palestinian fantasy that the Jewish people and the Jewish state have no connection to Jerusalem.”
However, Netanyahu sounded hopeful that the American promise that the move is a matter of when, not if, will prove true. Said his statement at the time, “Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, June 4, 2017)