It would be a profound mistake for President Trump to take action this week that fundamentally changes long-standing US policy on Jerusalem.
Israel’s capital is without question in Jerusalem, and it should be internationally recognized as such in the context of an agreed two-state solution that also establishes a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. In the absence of such an agreement, any major change in US policy on Jerusalem’s status would dangerously break with America’s long-standing view that the city’s final status can and should be determined only by a peace agreement between the parties.
The effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or of declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent US diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict.
The administration has set an important goal – one which J Street shares – to reach a comprehensive resolution to the long-standing conflict between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples that hurts American interests and threatens Israel’s long-run security. The administration should heed the commonsense recommendations of US and Israeli security experts who understand the conflict that any move that prejudges the outcome of negotiations around Jerusalem could deal a devastating blow to its effort to jumpstart the diplomatic process.
The administration should also note that only a small minority of Jewish Americans – just 20 percent – support unilaterally moving the embassy.
Furthermore, moving the embassy or recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could have destructive consequences for American allies in the region – in particular the kingdoms of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. While we would hope that any announcement would not result in further violence and suffering – in Israel, in the region and potentially around the world – we fear that it might.
There will be a time for American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and for moving the embassy. That time is after an agreement, not before.
J Street believes that Israel's capital is in Jerusalem and will be internationally recognized as such in the context of an agreed two-state solution.