Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is reportedly "furious" by comments made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after America's top diplomat appeared to waver on the US president's pledge to relocate the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to online publication Axios Monday. Two sources close to the Jewish entrepreneur told the news site that Adelson was outraged with the White House's apparent shift in rhetoric surrounding the embassy issue. Speaking in an interview aired Sunday with Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press, Tillerson said the president's decision will be informed "by the parties involved" in the Middle East peace process. "The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have," Tillerson said.
US President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to move the embassy, but quickly changed course after taking office, advised by Middle East allies that such an action would roil the region and undermine his efforts to jumpstart peace talks.During the 2016 US presidential election, Adelson publicly supported Trump's bid for the White House, reportedly donating to the then-Republican candidate an estimated $25 million, according to Fox News. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later publicly disputed Tillerson's charge that Israel might not want the US Embassy relocated to Jerusalem at this time.“Israel has clearly stated its position to the US and to the world multiple times. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem won’t harm the peace process.""The opposite is true. It will correct a historic injustice by advancing the [peace process] and shattering a Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem isn’t Israel’s capital,” Netanyahu said.While Netanyahu has publicly called for the embassy’s relocation, there is wide-ranging speculation that he has hesitated, possibly to not lose support for wider, behind-the- scenes alliances with moderate Arab states with regard to Iran.Marc Zell, who chairs Republicans Overseas Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that the embassy has not been moved “because of a request coming from this side of the ocean.”The Israeli government wants the embassy moved, but “it’s a question of timing,” said Zell, who just returned from Washington, where he had dinner with Vice President Mike Pence.Meanwhile, Adelson is scheduled to appear in Israel next week to provide testimony in a corruption probe swirling around the premier. His visit will coincidentally coincide with Trump's first official state visit to the holy land since taking office, which is dated for May 22. It is unknown if the two will meet while in the country. Michael Wilner contributed to this report.
Pence: Trump seriously considering moving US embassy to Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS)