Michael Oren, former ambassador to the US, speaking infront of Christians United for Israel. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem will have ramifications that stretch much further than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren predicted Monday.
Speaking to the press on a conference call hosted by the Israel Project’s head of the official embassy event, he said: “It’s important to keep sight of the global ramifications of what is going to happen today. That the fact that the president of the United States made a promise to move his embassy – he did it in the face of often brutal opposition from the international community, from the media, from within the US as well – the fact that he did this will have reverberations around the world.”
Oren, of the center-right Kulanu party, said: “The North Koreans will take note, the Russians will take note, everybody will take note. It’s not just about moving the embassy to Jerusalem, it’s about America’s credibility and ability to influence world affairs, and that in my mind is perhaps the greatest significance of today.”
Having just come out of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Oren described the mood as “exuberant and excited” accompanied by a sense of gratification and gratitude to the Trump administration, which he hopes has now paved the way for other countries to follow suit.
Following the US withdrawal from the Iran agreement, Israeli military strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision victory and the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Oren described this as “the most extraordinary week we have had since June 1967 [the Six Day War].”
On an operational level, he said it would likely take a while for all of the different departments of the embassy to transfer to Jerusalem, but “the precedent has been set, and Ambassador [David] Friedman will be operating out of Jerusalem, and I think that precedent is thankfully irreversible.”
Asked whether this move by the US will come at a cost to Israel further down the line, Oren pointed out that Trump has Tweeted twice that he would “extract the price” from Israel if the Palestinians avail themselves to that opportunity.
“They have not so far,” Oren said.
He added, however, that he does believe the Trump administration has been working rigorously on a peace plan. “I would not be surprised if that peace plan was put on the table in the near future,” he said, “and I have strongly urged my own coalition to be open minded if not thoroughly accepting to this peace plan, and if anybody has to reject it, let the Palestinians reject is, not us.”
Trump has shown repeatedly that he stands behind his promises, Oren said, and if the Palestinians enter peace talks, “they will find a very strong mediator.”