The Washington Post reports: Within the administration, key voices of support came from Pence, Kushner and Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador at the United Nations.
Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, had supported the move from early in Trump’s candidacy, and Pence, who is to visit Israel this month, told Trump that his base would love the decision, something the president liked to hear.
An important outside voice advising Trump to make the leap was Adelson’s, according to several people familiar with the two men’s conversations. At a White House dinner in the spring, Adelson made the issue a main topic, one person said. In the months that followed, Adelson periodically asked others close to Trump what was causing the delay and expressed frustration, these people said.
At the same time, other Trump advisers were making their case against the move. Most prominent among them were Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Tillerson, mindful of the death of four Americans in militant attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, “pushed back vocally,” one White House official said. Already at odds with Trump over other aspects of the president’s approach to the Middle East, Tillerson argued that the move could unleash a dangerous chain reaction across the region.
R.C. Hammond, a Tillerson adviser, said Tillerson and Mattis requested time to evaluate U.S. outposts and fortify them if necessary.
Some outside confidants, including billionaire Tom Barrack, urged Trump to hold off, worried that the move would deepen regional tensions caused by Saudi Arabia’s political shake-up and Iran’s growing reach.
“It’s insane. We’re all resistant,” said one Trump confidant who spoke to president recently about it. “He doesn’t realize what all he could trigger by doing this.” [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: Ten days before Donald J. Trump took office, Sheldon G. Adelson went to Trump Tower for a private meeting. Afterward, Mr. Adelson, the casino billionaire and Republican donor, called an old friend, Morton A. Klein, to report that Mr. Trump told him that moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a major priority.
“He was very excited, as was I,” said Mr. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, a hard-line pro-Israel group. “This is something that’s in his heart and soul.”
The two men had to wait nearly a year, but on Wednesday, Mr. Trump stood beneath a portrait of George Washington to announce that he was formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and setting in motion a plan to move the embassy to the fiercely contested Holy City.
“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise,” he said, “they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
For Mr. Trump, the status of Jerusalem was always more a political imperative than a diplomatic dilemma. Faced with disappointing evangelical and pro-Israel backers like Mr. Adelson, or alarming allies and Arab leaders while jeopardizing his own peace initiative, the president sided with his key supporters. [Continue reading…]
The Los Angeles Times reports: John Hagee, a prominent evangelical pastor and leader of Christians United for Israel, said in an email Wednesday that he has met with Pence and Trump several times, bringing up Jerusalem on each occasion. In July, Pence delivered the keynote at the Christians United for Israel’s annual summit, drawing his most sustained ovation when he vowed that moving the embassy “is not a question of if, it is only when.”
“The Christian Zionist community will not forget the president’s bold actions,” Hagee said. “President Trump will be honored and memorialized by Jews and Christians for all time.” [Continue reading…]