On Dec. 6 President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and instructed the State Department to begin planning the relocation of our embassy to Israel’s capital.
The next day, a State Department assistant secretary for Near East Affairs refused to clearly affirm that Jerusalem is in Israel. When pressed by reporters, he declared that there would be no change at this time in consular practice or passport issuance. Translation: “Jerusalem, Israel” will not appear on official U.S. documents, including passports and maps; the U.S. Consulate’s address will, as in the past, not read “Jerusalem, Israel,” and our government will continue to prevent Americans born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their birth country.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that it would take at least several years to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In reality, the embassy could be moved in several hours by changing the signage on the U.S. Consulate in West Jerusalem.
According to Reuters and the Associated Press, Mr. Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis vigorously argued against the embassy move, claiming that it would endanger the “peace process.” This is a red herring, since our 70-year refusal to recognize Israel’s capital and move our embassy to Jerusalem has not brought us any closer to peace.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that Mr. Tillerson, who was not at Mr. Trump’s side for the announcement, had “made his positions clear to the White House.”