At his annual Hanukkah reception, Ambassador Ron Dermer said such a move “would be a great step for peace” and help Israel battle efforts to delegitimize the state.
Democrats in the room, several of whom still serve in the Obama administration, were furious, questioning why Dermer was acting while the “body [of the current US leadership] was still warm.”
But the ambassador said maintaining an embassy in Tel Aviv over Jerusalem was the equivalent of Israel keeping its embassy in New York.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said last month that prioritizing such a move over other issues – such as coordination of Iran policy and fighting Islamic extremism – would be a mistake. But the government has signaled enthusiasm over the potential move, which Trump officials have discussed often and with gusto. Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, says it’s a frequent topic of private conversation, and his pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has advocated for the move.
Israel considers Jerusalem its united and eternal capital. The State Department, however, has long avoided taking a stance on the status of the city, which Palestinians also claim as the capital of any future sovereign state of their own.