Evangelicals pray for God to give Trump courage to move embassy in the future
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Evangelicals pray for God to give Trump courage to move embassy in the future

The Christian groups were key supporters of the president in the election; Liberal Jewish groups hail his restraint

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

File: Pastor John Hagee, center, leads Christians in a solidarity march in Jerusalem in 2010. (Courtesy: CUFI)
File: Pastor John Hagee, center, leads Christians in a solidarity march in Jerusalem in 2010. (Courtesy: CUFI)

Pro-Israeli Christian groups expressed their displeasure Thursday with US President Donald Trump’s signing of a waiver that delays any plan to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for six months, saying they would pray that he change his mind soon.

“Millions of Evangelical Christian Zionists are praying that God gives President Trump the courage to begin the process of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem – the eternal, undivided Biblical capital of the re-born State of Israel,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.

If not today then in six months – it has to happen,” said Cardoza-Moore, who is also Special United Nations Envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches (WCICC) which represents 40 million Evangelical Christians worldwide.

Christians United for Israel also expressed “disappointment” with Trump’s decision. “The President knows that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and we strongly believe that the location of our embassy should reflect that reality,” the organization said in a statement.

Despite backtracking on a key promise he made on the campaign trail throughout 2016, the Trump Administration insisted the move did not represent a weakening of his support for Israel. “While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance,” the White House statement said.

US President Donald Trump discusses the potential transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in an interview to Fox News on January 26, 2017 (screen capture: YouTube)
US President Donald Trump discusses the potential transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in an interview to Fox News on January 26, 2017 (screen capture: YouTube)

A 1995 law mandates the relocation of the embassy, but provides the president with the prerogative to postpone the move on national security grounds. Each of Trump’s three immediate predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — repeatedly exercised that right.

The most recent waiver, signed by Obama, expired on June 1. Without its renewal, the US government would have been legally obligated to proceed with moving the embassy.

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, CUFI warned Trump that his campaign promise “was of critical importance to millions of Christian Zionists who ultimately supported his bid for the White House. They will be watching what the president does very closely.”

In contrast to the Christian organizations, the reactions of US liberal Jewish groups were much more positive

“We are glad that the administration has heeded the advice of veteran officials in the diplomatic and security communities, and decided to maintain the prudent policy of its predecessors on this issue,” said liberal pro-Israel lobbying group J Street in statement.

Union for Reform Judaism President Rick Jacobs tweeted, “We agree w/ @POTUS that moving US Embassy to J’lem must be part of a negotiated package. #rightidea #wrongtime.”

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