US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump will hold their first face-to-face meeting since Trump’s inauguration. They will focus on a series of key issues facing the two nations, including the Iran nuclear deal and a potential move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
This summit comes at a crucial time in the longstanding partnership between the US and our friends and allies in Israel. The last few acts of the Obama administration’s feckless foreign policy threatened Israel’s sovereignty. First, the US abstained from voting against UN Resolution 2334. Second, secretary of state John Kerry endorsed and attended the anti-Israel Paris “Peace Conference,” and third, the president signed a waiver delaying the move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for another six months.
Candidate Trump made promises to move the embassy. Now, President Trump has the opportunity to deliver on that promise and move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – thereby recognizing the holy city as the official capital of Israel.
The delay has gone on for far too long. In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which permitted and allocated funds for the move by 1999. Fifteen years have passed and three presidents have refused to execute the congressional mandate. We must not let this failure be the final word to Israel.
Trump has the right team to get the job done and people of faith across our country, in solidarity with leaders in Israel, support the president’s efforts. President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is leading the effort in the new administration to make the move a reality. Kushner has widespread support from leaders in Israel, including the mayor of Jerusalem, deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely and David Friedman, Trump’s nominee for US ambassador to Israel.
Closer to home, senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Dean Heller have introduced the Jerusalem Embassy Recognition Act, which as its name implies would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel through the move.
Trump’s recent meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May shows his eagerness to reaffirm alliances with nations with whom we share a special relationship. And he has already demonstrated, he is unafraid to take controversial action to do the right thing. One of his first acts as president was to sign an executive order that prevents American tax dollars from funding international organizations that offer abortions and sterilizations.
Christians who support Israel should urge the government to continue on this bold path and support the embassy move. The Faith & Freedom Coalition, alongside our friends at Stand United, have launched a StandUnited.org petition asking the US State Department to respect Israel’s sovereignty and stop the enemies of freedom in the region and around the world from threatening Israel.
Such support also demonstrates our dedication to Israel as a nation that shares our values. Israel, like America, is a liberal democracy that gives its citizens the right to choose their own government and practice their own faith. There are Israeli citizens from all three major monotheistic faiths, as well as other minority faith groups. All are permitted to worship freely, and all are given the right to vote in elections.
These freedoms are rare in the Middle East, and Christians must support a government that gives its citizens these remarkable liberties.
Above all, however, supporting the move affirms our belief that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that Israel is the land that He promised them in Scripture. God’s promises are eternal and He does not change his mind. The words He spoke to Abraham over 4,000 years ago still hold true today. Failure to support the Jews not only denies God’s faithfulness, it hurts the people whom He chose to bear our savior.
Now is the time for decisive and deliberate action. Scripture repeatedly shows us that, after a time of frustrated waiting, God brings together the right forces to create peace and justice in the world. Congress and President Trump have an opportunity to be these forces, and as Christians we must urge them to take it.
The author is executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.