U.S. Envoy for Middle East negotiations Jason Greenblatt on a visit in Israel.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
With the US poised on Monday afternoon to formally open its embassy in Jerusalem, following years when successive administrations deferred on the step because of stated concerns that it would trigger violence and hurt the peace process, US Mideast negotiator Jason Greenblatt laid out in a Twitter thread Monday morning the administration’s reasons for the move.
First, he wrote, the 1995 bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the move was unanimously affirmed by the Senate in 2017.
“More than two decades of waivers delaying the Embassy move brought us no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,” wrote Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations.
“Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Israeli Supreme Court and is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and President, as well as the headquarters of many government ministries,” he explained.
Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he said, citing Trump’s remarks explaining the move last December, “is simply a recognition of reality. Israel is a sovereign nation, and like every other sovereign nation, it has the right to determine its own capital.”
Greenblatt said that despite good intentions, a bipartisan Congressional resolution and campaign promises, “for 70 years we neglected to extend this basic courtesy to Israel that we extend to other countries. It is time to change that and show that America will always stand with Israel.”
Israel delighted, Palestinians angered ahead of US embassy move to Jerusalem, May 13, 2018 (Reuters)
Greenblatt, a key member of Trump’s Mideast team working on a yet-to-be-released peace plan, said that taking this “long overdue step” is “not a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace deal. Rather, it is a necessary condition for it. The US continues to support preserving the status quo at holy sites. We remain committed to advancing an agreement between the parties that leads to a lasting and comprehensive peace.”
Noting that Jerusalem is the “heart of three great religions, as well as the capital of one of the most successful democracies in the world,” he wrote that the city “is, and must remain, a city in which Jews pray at the Western Wall, Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and Muslims worship at al-Aqsa.”