Rumors & Lobbying Around Possible US Embassy Relocation to Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is actively lobbying the incoming U.S. administration of Donald Trump to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Barkat made that case in an interview he gave to the New York Times during his recent visit to New York. He also reportedly used that same visit to lobby President-elect Trump‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner, with whom he has reportedly close ties, on that same issue.

Barkat’s efforts coincide with a number of statements from Trump surrogates suggesting that Trump is serious about breaking with decades of U.S. policy and moving the embassy – suggestions welcomed warmly by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It should be recalled that U.S. law, passed in 1995, requires the President to move the embassy to Jerusalem. However, the law allows the president to waive this requirement every 6 months, for reasons of U.S. national security. Every U.S. president – from both parties – has done so since the law was passed, with the most recent waiver signed December 1 by President Obama.

These efforts also coincide with reports in the Israeli media – apparently leaked by Israeli government sources – that members of Trump’s transition team are actively exploring with Israeli officials in Jerusalem to see about possible locations for a new U.S. embassy in the city. Some have suggested that this information was leaked in order to stir up opposition to such a move (although it is equally plausible it was leaked by someone who wanted to increase pressure on the incoming Trump Administration to carry out the relocation). For more on possible locations, see here. For further excellent analysis of this possible move, see here.

The ramifications of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem are so problematic that the move has never before been contemplated seriously by any administration, Republican or Democrat, since 1967. That is no longer the case, and it is imperative that we analyze the likely and potential consequences in greater detail – and with greater urgency – than we have in the past. We will be producing and sharing such an analysis in the near future.