US-Jewish groups differ in reaction to Trump decision on Jerusalem

Washington - Two major US-Jewish lobbying organizations displayed opposing reactions to President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving its embassy there.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) welcomed it, calling it an "important, historic step for which we are grateful," while the J Street organization said it was "an unhelpful step with no tangible benefits, only serious risks."
AIPAC and J Street, which both have offices in Washington, issued statements shortly after Trump announced his decision on Wednesday.
AIPAC commended Trump's "momentous announcement," saying it has always supported US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital city.
"It is our long-held position that undivided #Jerusalem is the historic, current and future capital of Israel," read a statement, posted on Twitter.
"Relocating the embassy to #Jerusalem does not in any way prejudge the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian #peace process," it added.
"This recognition is a long-overdue step to implement US law," it said, referring to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which declared that Jerusalem "should remain an undivided city" and said the US embassy should be established there.
J Street, which describes itself as the "political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans who want Israel to be secure, democratic and the national home of the Jewish people," said Trump’s announcement contradicts decades of bipartisan presidential policy.
"It does nothing to advance, and could seriously undermine, the administration’s stated commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while potentially threatening Israel’s security and alienating Arab regional partners," the J Street statement said.
The question of whether and when the US embassy will move becomes a moot point because recognizing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem prior to a negotiated peace agreement will have the same damaging impact as an actual move of the embassy, it said.
J Street said Jerusalem should be internationally recognized as Israel’s capital in the context of an agreed two-state solution that also establishes a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
"In the absence of that final agreement between the parties on the city’s status, blanket recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is premature and divisive," the statement said.
It notes that this is the reason all US administrations since 1967 have maintained that the final status of Jerusalem is to be decided by negotiations and have avoided any actions that could be interpreted as prejudging their outcome.
J Street also said only a small minority of Jewish Americans - about 20 per cent - support unilaterally moving the embassy.
"We hope it will not result in further violence and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians – but we fear that it might," the statement concluded.


Wednesday, December 6th 2017

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