Just days before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Republican candidate Donald Trump is doubling down on his support for Israel, releasing detailed policy positions and agreeing to a Christian group’s “guiding principles” for the continuation of a strong relationship between America and the Jewish state.
Trump told the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, a faith-based organization that supports the state of Israel, Wednesday that he agrees to five key principles advanced by the group. His decision came after he and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton were asked by the ICEJ to endorse these very specific policy points.
“A petition addressed to the candidates signed by some 40,000 grassroots Americans, and the ACLI letter signed by 650 Christian leaders across America, emphasized locating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, supporting security aid to Israel, monitoring and acting on Iran’s terrorism and violations of the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement, rejecting third party solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict forced on Israel, and opposing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions efforts levied at Israel,” reads a press release from ICEJ.
Trump’s decision to embrace these ideals is notable for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, Clinton has yet to respond to the petition. And second, the location of the U.S. embassy — which is currently in Tel Aviv — has long been a point of contention. While a U.S. law passed in 1995 called for the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, the past three presidents have enacted waivers to delay such a move, citing security concerns, as CNN reported.
The central issue at hand? Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, while Palestine also envisions the city being the capital of its own prospective future state. Other Republican candidates and politicians have voiced similar support for moving the embassy to Jerusalem, including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.
Either way, Susan Michael, USA director of ICEJ, praised Trump’s decision to agree with the petition’s main points, saying the policies he agreed to “will enhance Israel’s standing in the world and directly benefit the United States in security, innovation, technology, and intelligence.”
But that wasn’t the only major Israel-related announcement to come from the Trump camp this week, as the campaign releasing a detailed, 16-point Israel policy on Wednesday that has been capturing a fair amount of attention since it was published by David Friedman and Jason Dov Greenblatt, two of his advisers.
Friedman and Greenblatt, co-chairmen of the Israel Advisory Committee to Donald J. Trump, explained that each issue had been discussed with Trump or his campaign, and wrote that “most have been stated, in one form or another, by Mr. Trump in various interviews or speeches given by him or on his social media accounts.”
The policy positions proclaimed that Israel has a historical tie to the land where the country now resides, that America has a unique relationship with the Jewish state, that a Trump administration would further ensure Israel’s protection and that the U.S. should fight back against any efforts at the United Nations or other international bodies to delegitimize or unfairly single out Israel, among other related policy positions.
Without a doubt, the overarching and central theme embedded in the 16-point policy is the idea that the U.S. will go to great lengths under a Trump presidency to defend Israel.
“The Trump administration will ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts on college campuses to intimidate students who support Israel,” reads yet another bullet point.
Another adds, “Israel’s maintenance of defensible borders that preserve peace and promote stability in the region is a necessity. Pressure should not be put on Israel to withdraw to borders that make attacks and conflict more likely.”
Trump’s increased support for Israel just days before the election will surely be welcomed by many American evangelicals. It’s a move that comes on the heels of Trump’s more open discussions about God and prayer. Perhaps most notably, Trump hand wrote a prayer that will be brought to Jerusalem to be placed in a crevice at the Western Wall.
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