Although other U.S. presidents “backed down” from pledges to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, when President Donald Trump “makes a promise, he keeps it,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said Monday during the facility’s opening ceremony.
“Last year, President Trump announced to the world that the United States would finally recognize the truth: that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” Kushner said. “He also declared that we would soon move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and just five months later we are standing on these grounds.
“While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American embassy once in office, this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it.”
Former President Bill Clinton said in 1992 that “Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel and must remain an undivided city accessible to all.” Former President George W. Bush claimed in 2000, “As soon as I take office, I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
Trump’s immediate predecessor, former President Barack Obama, even said in 2008 that “Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, and I have said that before, and I will say it again. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
But none of those presidents accomplished what Trump did as president in relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Kushner called for unity when he spoke during the U.S. Embassy’s opening ceremony even as it was met with deadly protests across the Israeli-Gaza border that left at least 43 Palestinians died.
“We believe it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give, so that all people can live in peace — safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams,” Kushner said. “Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together.”
Kushner noted that Trump “was very clear that his decision and today’s celebration do not reflect a departure from our strong commitment to lasting peace — a peace that overcomes the conflicts of the past in order to give our children a brighter and more boundless future.”
“As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those proving violence are part of the problem and, too, part of the solution,” Kushner continued.
Although Trump did not attend the opening ceremony in person, a video message he recorded played before the audience gathered to celebrate.
“On Dec. 6, 2017, at my direction, the United States finally and officially recognized Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel,” Trump said. “Today, we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy in the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem. And we’re opening it many, many years ahead of schedule.”
Trump insisted that the United States’ “greatest hope” is “for peace,” noting that he “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement” while supporting “the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites.”
Palestinians and other members of the international community still claim that Israel’s capital is Tel Aviv and regard East Jerusalem as the capital for a future Palestinian state. But Trump said in his video address that the U.S. finally acknowledged “the obvious, plain reality” that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem under his administration.
Trump promised throughout his campaign that he would relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump during the ceremony for the “historic” relocation, claiming that “we are in Jerusalem, and we are here to stay.”
“By recognizing history, you have made history,” Netanyahu said. “May the opening of this embassy in this city spread the truth far and wide, and may the truth advance a lasting peace between Israel and all our neighbors.”
“I truly appreciate the president turning this important recognition into reality.”
Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, unveiled the new embassy’s plaque alongside Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who attended the opening ceremony and led the Senate’s delegation for the “historic” event, said in a statement Monday that “this is a monumental day in United States-Israel relations, as we finally open an embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
“For over 20 years, it has been American policy to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, but it wasn’t until today — and the leadership of President Trump — that we had an embassy in Jerusalem,” Graham said. “I truly appreciate the president turning this important recognition into reality.”