Evangelical Supporters of President Trump Disappointed After He Decides Not to Move the U.S. Embassy In Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

President Trump touches the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

President Trump’s decision to maintain the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has disappointed conservative Christians who were counting on him to make good on a key campaign promise.

But many expect that the long-awaited move will still occur and seem to give him the benefit of the doubt on the need to at least delay relocating the U.S. mission to Jerusalem given the realities of peacemaking in the Middle East.

“America’s recognition of the capital city of our foremost and only democratic ally in the Middle East should not be a bargaining chip,” said National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry A. Johnson, in a statement. “I am disappointed, but I take the President at his word that this is only a delay in delivering on his promise.”

The White House said the decision — which includes a six-month waiver on action related to the embassy — should not be considered “in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel” or his commitment to its alliance with the U.S.

“President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests,” the White House stated. “But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”

Trump had said in a speech last year to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee he wanted to move the embassy to “the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” and added in a later interview that would happen “fairly quickly.”

But White House press secretary Sean Spicer had appeared to walk back that pledge at his very first press briefing, saying the administration was “at the early stages in this decision-making process.”

“If it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through a decision-making process,” he said.

Many Christian conservatives who have been strong proponents of relocating the embassy in Israel remain confident that Trump, who garnered 81 percent of the vote of white evangelicals, will keep his promise eventually.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Adelle M. Banks and Emily McFarlan Miller

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