Trump Moving Embassy to Jerusalem Serves U.S. Interests and Not Part of Israeli ‘Give-and-take’, U.S. Official Says

A senior American official said on Friday that the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, set to take place next week, wasn’t made as part of a "give and take" with Israel, but rather based on "the interests of the United States."

The senior official said in a briefing to journalists that "this is something that serves the United States. There is no give and take with Israel with regards to this decision."

The official added that "there are people who are happy with the decision and people who are unhappy, but it’s far too early to measure reactions. We are convinced this decision creates a platform and an opportunity to promote a peace process based on realities, not fantasies. We’re sure it will create greater stability in the long run."

The U.S also intends to relocate its ambassador’s residence to Jerusalem as well, the official says. The U.S. ambassador’s official residence is currently located in the city of Herzliya in central Israel. 

>> U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem: Everything you need to know ■ Embassies, Nakba, Ramadan: All you need to know about Israel’s roller-coaster week <<

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The Palestinian Authority severed its ties with the Donald Trump administration following its decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and some leading Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Jordan, have also criticized the decision. The American official said, however, that "this has not isolated" either the United States or Israel, pointing to recent cooperations between the United States and European allies, such as a joint attack in Syria last month.

A second American official who participated in the briefing mentioned a tweet published yesterday by Bahrain’s foreign minister expressing support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Iran. "That was enormously important," the official stated. "It’s a sea change we’ve been waiting for. It’s so important to see an Arab nation recognize Israel as a country, and a country that has a right to defend itself."

With regards to the Palestinian reaction, the senior U.S. official stated that "the Palestinians for decades had a veto over the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That was empowering leverage in a way that’s not helpful." The official added that under Trump, "circumstances are changing. People have to get on board."

The second U.S. official said that the administration is monitoring reports about potential demonstrations and riots, but added that the recent wave of demonstrations and confrontations on the Israel-Gaza border are not related to any decision by the United States. "We support peaceful protests – but the key word here is peaceful. In Gaza there are many, many people protesting peacefully, but others flying kites with swastikas and setting fires," the second official said.