Online petition calls on Trump to move US Embassy to Jerusalem
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Online petition calls on Trump to move US Embassy to Jerusalem

Orthodox Union urges president-elect to keep campaign promise, recognize Israel’s ‘chosen capital’

The US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 14, 2016. (Flash 90)
The US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 14, 2016. (Flash 90)

The Orthodox Union has started an online petition calling on President-elect Donald Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The move would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s “chosen capital,” the OU petition on Change.org says. It also notes that June 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

On Tuesday night, the petition by the umbrella group for Orthodox synagogues and organizations had more than 1,500 signers out of a goal of 2,500.

“Early in your presidency will be a fitting, if overdue, time for you, President-Elect Donald Trump, to relocate the American embassy in Israel to the capital of the Jewish state,” the petition to be sent to Trump concludes.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed a waiver to prevent moving the embassy to Jerusalem. It was the eighth time that Obama signed the waiver, which must be renewed every six months.

Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, but allowed the president to exercise a waiver, citing the national security interests of the United States. Obama’s predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also signed the waiver.

On Friday Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman played down the centrality of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, telling a gathering of the Saban Forum here that “It’s very important, but we have other issues.”

Several members of the Israeli coalition have hailed the election of Donald Trump as representing the best opportunity of seeing the US relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, and thus signaling recognition of Israeli claims to the city.

Trump promised on the campaign trail to “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” and to do so “fairly quickly.”

But Liberman on Friday evening downplayed the significance of that pledge. “We’ve seen this promise [from US presidential candidates] in every election,” Liberman noted.

“We will wait and we will see, but I think [Trump’s statement] is a strong public commitment,” he said. But he stressed that “what is really crucial for us is to meet with a new administration about all our common policy, not just one issue, not only one point like the American embassy. It’s very important but we have other issues.”

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report.

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